In September I wrote about a fun little product called The Book of Awesome, which celebrates “snow days, bakery air, finding money in your pocket, and other simple, brilliant things.”
Putting our own spin on it, my family and I created a list called “The Church of Awesome,” which included: Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan, church roller-skating night, handing out flowers for Mother’s Day Sabbath, and the congregation’s second response to the double “Good morning!”
I invited you to share your own ideas of what makes your church awesome. Here’s what you said:
Meeting someone on the other side of the world and feeling as if you’ve known them your whole life because of the beliefs we share.—Janalee Shaw, Silver Spring, Maryland.
When I’m not familiar with the lyrics or tune of the opening song, but the person behind me with the beautiful voice knows them both.—Linda Whicker, Denver, North Carolina.
Not getting one single handshake—all hugs! And church board meetings that last less than two hours!—Joni Arthurs, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
When you’re greeting and the name of a member comes to mind just as they get to the door.—Byron Burke, Shawnee, Kansas.
When the Sabbath school teacher is a discussion leader, not a lecturer or, worse, a preacher.—Sterling Cox, New York, New York.
Waking on Sabbath morning to find out that my husband has prepared breakfast.—Alice Gray, Washougal, Washington.
A Pathfinder camp-in marshmallow snowball fight. And sledding down the big hill behind the church at the winter party.—LeAnn Austin and boys, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
When you have a certain hymn stuck in your head; then you get to church and find out they’re going to be singing it.—Shana Michalek, Nashville, Tennessee.
When song service starts and you aren’t asked to stand.—Lexi Alvidrez, Visalia, California.
Haystacks.—Ashlee Chism, Michigan City, Indiana.
Knowing that wherever you go, you have a church family.—Anna Bartlett, Robersonville, North Carolina.
The pastor’s prayer while you’re still standing in the baptistry.—Annalyse Hasty, Ranger, Georgia.
Words of encouragement when you least expect them.—Arleny Popteur, Miami, Florida.
This final submission—words of encouragement—was apropos. I received a separate letter from a church member feeling discouraged about all the bickering among church members. She was doing her best to remedy the situation by sending out notes of encouragement. “Your idea,” she wrote, “to focus on the awesome things about church is exactly what we need.”
Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean sweeping all our problems under the rug. We’re called as believers to work through tough times—to communicate appropriately and to heal (see Matt. 18:15-17). But we can also run the risk of dwelling only on the problems. If there’s anything we can do 100 percent of the time, it’s find fault in others.
We’re broken people living together on a broken planet. Yet we have the opportunity to live like citizens of heaven: to show grace and love to one another. Watch the difference on someone’s face when you say something nice about them—or to them. Watch the barriers come crashing down.
The grace of Christ sets apart our faith from all other faiths. It’s the most awesome thing of all. n
Andy Nash’s forthcoming book is called The Haystacks Church (Review and Herald). He and and his wife, Cindy, lead family-friendly trips to Israel each summer. Contact him at [email protected] This article was published December 13, 2012.