The story of how going back to school taught me about church

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It’s an historic week for our church. This Sunday we LAUNCH weekly services at Ooltewah Elementary School. That’s right. We’re launching a church in a school.

If you’ve never been a part of a church plant, that probably sounds a little weird. It sure did to me years ago when my friend left our “established” church to go on staff with a church that met in a school.

I remember thinking to myself, “Why wouldn’t he go on staff with a REAL church?”

At the time, I was ignorant. I thought “church” was a building – a place you find on Google Maps. A church has to have a steeple and red plush carpet. There have to be thrones up front for the pastor and jr. pastor to sit and uncomfortably sing as we stare at them during organ-led worship.


And where would they store the miniature pencils that God is apparently so fond of without pews?!

That’s church, right?

Yes. At least it was for me.

That’s where I first learned about Jesus at Vacation Bible School.
It’s where I met the crazy boys who became young men who are now the husbands and fathers I’ve been privileged to journey with through the years.
It’s where I learned how to worship and serve someone other than myself.
It’s where I discovered the plan that God had for my life and the mission that He would call me to.

But, I guess those things don’t require a building. Or miniature pencils.

As I get a bit older and wiser, I’m learning that the “church” is simply the family of God committed to the mission of God characterized by the presence of God.

That means church isn’t a place. Church is a people.

Over the last couple of years, God has called dozens of faithful pioneers to begin our new community of faith so that…

People who don’t know Jesus can have the opportunity to be rescued from lives void of purpose, hope, and deep friendship.

So that those who have given up on church, but not on God, might give the family of God – however messy and imperfect we may be – one more shot.

So that those who grew up just going to church, because that’s what we do in the south, can be invited into something bigger and more fulfilling than a religious routine.

Who’d want to go to church in a school?

Well, we hope you will.

Because sometimes we’re tricked into believing that “church” is just a building. When we gather and celebrate God any place other than a traditional building, we can’t help but be reminded as we set up and tear down weekly, as we walk past the principle’s office when we arrive, and look up at basketball goals as we sing, that God loves to show up and do extraordinary things in places that that we consider ordinary.

…like in our homes…places of work…friendships…and yes, even our kid’s school.

I guess I don’t care if we meet in a school, or a field or an old yoga studio, as long as I get the chance to share life with people who, like me, long to be connected by something that brings us deep meaning and purpose.

Just don’t make me sit in one of those thrones.  

Hope to see you Sunday.



3 thoughts on “The story of how going back to school taught me about church

  1. I can so relate to this. Love those little pencils. I remember the little pencils and the envelopes provided for your offering. Of course, when I was little I would write, “For: The Easter Bunny” and “From: Santa Clause”. I promise you, I remember doing this at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church on Hixson Pike. I also remember doing the same thing at Trinity Lutheran on Hixson Pike and Highway 153. In fact, if you really want me to prove it to you, I was unpacking (SURPRISE!) a box the other day and found my childhood bible. The mentioned envelope was in it! lol!!

    The only part you left out was the part about holding the Hymnals for the sake of your hands having something to do during “church”. I do remember the thrones up front. One was for the Lead Pastor and the other one was for the Assistant Pastor. Remember the robes? If you or Jon show up in a robe, we are out of there!

    Chris, I told you the first day I met you, in that old Yoga Studio, we really, really needed you in this community. A year later, it’s truer than ever. I’m sure after serving and observing for a year you know I’m right and you know how much I just love to be right! lol!!.

    The energy God provides you and you staff is amazing, yet real. We all need some “real” in our lives. I know He has placed His confidence in you. Just as we have as a family.

    When I e-mailed Daniel and Dailee’s father, he was not very happy about them joining Tom and I in church. Daniel’s father asked him what time he thought he should pick he and Dailee up after church (on his weekends). Daniel said, “It will take at least an hour after church to help with the sound system and then I need to go help Miss Amy put the stuff up for the kids in the nursery.” This is the 17 year-old that told me he didn’t really like church the first time we visited.

    Dailee plugged in immediately with the babies in the nursery. She’s so excited about this Sunday. In fact, she LOVES all the babies. So help me, Chris, if I end up with a bunch of babies at my house, you’re in BIG trouble!!

    Tom and I will never forget everyone that came down from Knoxville and those living in Chattanooga that helped us move. Tom nor I have ever experienced anything like that before in our lives. That wasn’t a church helping, it was GOD’S PEOPLE helping. We love each and everyone of you.

    God Bless and we can’t wait until Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Pingback: What a 9 year old Taught me About the Power of Stories | So What?!

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