Who needs a church?
By Rev. Dr. Judy Winkelpleck Interim Pastor, Mission del Sol Presbyterian Church
“God did not intend that you leave your brain on the doorstep of the church.” Rev. Dr. Robert Robinson preached this message many times when I was a youth.
Did you avoid or leave a church because your brain was not challenged? Or, are there other reasons why a church is not in your life? Why do so many people sleep in or go climbing or golf on Sunday, the traditional day of worship for Christians?
As a young adult I left the church because church did not seem relevant to the real life my family and I had. The church seemed too autocratic and perfect. It intimidated a person like me who regularly messed up. I disliked all the rules. My intellect was not challenged and I could not see the advantage of going to a church compared to just trying to be a good person and helping others through service clubs and non-profits.
Later, God taught me a deep lesson through the voices of those to whom we often do not listen—the dying. For a few years I was a hospice chaplain. Many patients told me that they believed in God but had stopped going to church, and they regretted that. Asking why, I heard their stories of wishing they had a church where they could have asked questions about faith and God, where they could have been around people who would help them grow in their spiritual journey, where they could have developed a family on whom they could depend, where they
could have admitted they messed up and still could hear that God loved them, where they could have had opportunities to learn about and honor other faith traditions, and where they had avenues for helping people who are marginalized.
These folks always told me, “I never lost my faith in God. I just wish I would have had a church to help me live that faith.”
At Mission del Sol we try to be a loving community of faith but we are human. We mess up. But we try. We are trying to learn to talk together when we have conflict in the hope that we can contribute to the peace this world needs.
We are trying to hear what mission work we should do. We are doing this while serving through Family Promise, Meals on Wheels, THEW school, and many more. We are trying to develop more ways to demonstrate that we welcome everyone.
We are people in process, always changing. We serve a dynamic God, who is always inviting us to think anew about God’s world.
Consider your own spiritual journey. Might being a part of a community of faith be helpful for you?
May this question rest in your brain and on your heart. You are welcome to join us at Mission del Sol any Sunday!
Mission del Sol Presbyterian Church is at 1565 E. Warner Road, Tempe.