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I’m a member of three churches.
I’ve been attending Canby Alliance Church since 1991. This church family of mine has helped me through many troubled times, and rejoiced with me many times as well. A few of you reading this post attend there, and thank you, thank you, thank you, for all you have done for me and my family!
I’m also a member of a much larger church. I am a member of The Church, the Body of Christ. This church, The Church, includes people from many churches, throughout time. My brother Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) is a member. The disciples as well. Followers great and followers small, all members of this church, The Church. If you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you are a member of this church.
There is a third church I belong to as well. I feel it had its first real worship service this past Sunday. It is The First Church of Canby.
One of the confusing aspects of our faith is the many forms of the church... the many sects, the many formats, the many congregations. For the nonbeliever it seems evidence of the fickleness of Christianity, the disagreements and debates and issues which, for those who are not Christ-followers, point to a disunity, hinting we cannot be speaking truth since we disagree on some points.
But it isn’t true.
I have been watching the growth of The First Church of Canby for some time.
The idea is simple. We are the body of Christ. All of us. We should act like it. We must act like it, for it is true. We are to love each other, help each other, be the hands of our Lord, be the feet of Jesus, do what He would have us do.
Churches are not supposed to be competing businesses. They are not to be seeking to draw “customers” in and grow for the sake of growing. We are to be seeking to be light unto a dark world.
Some of the churches in our town have come to work together on various projects. First there were meetings of the pastors of the churches. There was a month of prayer for our community (we asked the people of our small city what they would like us to pray for and we prayed daily for all of them). There was the formation of a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and then the building of our first house (more on the way!).
Sunday felt to me like the first worship service of The First Church of Canby.
It was a benefit concert for a project sponsored by seven of our local churches. We want to build a community center. We have already leased the buildings (totaling approx. 38,000 square feet!) near the high school.
It will offer a place for teens to congregate, to put on concerts, to get help with homework, or simply play basketball in a safe environment. There will be counseling for the weary, and the worried, and the wandering. There will be a food bank, and help for finding work and housing. There isn’t any end to what we can do for our town in this place!
And this isn’t some sort of Christian Trojan horse. We aren’t going to twist people’s arms to go to a particular church, or any church for that matter. We simply want to be the hands of Jesus, helping others, offering a glass of water, a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on.
So there was a benefit concert Sunday night. It was to run for two hours beginning at 6:00, but it lasted nearly three. I heard it said that 800 people attended. (Which raised more than $4,000 and, more importantly, awareness.)
There was a youth worship team that led some, well, youthful music. (But I liked it anyway!). They did seven songs.
And then a band that had... gosh I don’t know, a half dozen guitars, several keyboards, a hammer dulcimer, saxophones, drums, a variety of percussion instruments, and who knows how many vocalists. Many of them are professional musicians. And they sang 17 songs praising our Lord. Right there in the center of town, blasting away, and they praised Him!
As a finale there were three more songs where the youth crammed themselves into the open spots on the stage and joined in.
I sat in my chair with my sons. And my feet tapped, and my heart raced, and I began to worship.
Soon it did not matter that I was a teacher, a fellow who is supposed to be cautious in revealing my personal beliefs to my students. Soon it did not matter that I was a man who is not supposed to show too much emotion in public. Soon it did not matter about anything at all except that I am a Christ Follower, that I love my Lord, and that I am unashamed of proclaiming my love to Him, and to anyone who happens to be near.
I stood up, and swayed to the music. I stood up and closed my eyes. I stood up and raised my hands and bowed my head and thanked my Lord for being WHO HE IS.
I wasn’t alone. Though many did not rise, they were there worshiping, enjoying the praise. We were all a part of the body of Christ. We are the local part of who He is. We were, we are, THE FIRST CHURCH OF CANBY.