What is the Church

Before I start, I want to take a second and let everyone know that this is not going to be a extremely deep, philosophical collection of words to perfectly describe the followers of the Christian faith. This is not a statement about denominations, faith, or the structured religions that are usually associated with the word “church.” This is an observation and an answer to a question that I was asked several years ago and was not able to convey the answer. This is a post about the body of believers and the outward expression of love.

As many of you may already know (I’d be surprised if you didn’t realize this already), South Carolina flooded last week.  11 trillion gallons of water. That is a lot of water that the ground wasn’t able to absorb. It rushed into the lakes and spilled over the roadways, broke though dams and invaded homes. There are areas where homes are completely submerged.

This disaster has claimed the lives of several individuals and has threatened thousands. It has also proved that no disaster is ever the same.

I’m used to disasters. I’ve been around them for a little bit. I’ve seen tornadoes and hurricanes, wildfires and floods, and I’ve witnessed many responses to these disasters. I’ve seen the outpouring that became The Miracle of the Human Spirit in Joplin and the struggle of long-term recovery in Detroit where local volunteers were almost non-existent. I’ve been a part of the volunteer response and participated in serving individuals through assistance provided through FEMA. So, I didn’t really know what I was expecting to find when I made the choice to volunteer here in South Carolina.

After failing to find a volunteer opportunity through all the ‘official’ channels (the places where individuals who have experience in disaster response usually look first), I found the movement #FloodSCWithLove.

When I was in college, this mega church in South Carolina popped up down the road. It was filled with people and surrounded by controversy, conspiracy theories, and conversations about it usually turned into arguments about things I didn’t understand. People criticized the teachings and jumped to conclusions based on the fact that it was huge. The building is huge, the gatherings are huge, everything about it is huge. Everyone knew about NewSpring.

[EDIT: I previously stated that “I never set foot in NewSpring.” I realized that this was wrong. I attended service once during my time at Anderson University after being invited by a friend. Sorry ’bout that!]

For me, it just seemed too big. I wasn’t comfortable around it because it scarred me. It didn’t feel like home.

But, after graduating and spending five years away from the area, I knew that several of my college friends work for and with NewSpring. And while I was looking for volunteer opportunities after the flooding, I kept on seeing this hashtag; #FloodSCWithLove. So, I investigated farther and decided, this was a movement that I wanted to be part of.

So there I was, for the first time, walking into NewSpring.

You know that feeling you get when you are all stressed out and then suddenly you are able to breathe? That is how it felt when I entered into the building. It felt like home.

One of the first things that I noticed was that people actually cared about one another, they shared genuine smiles, and loved no matter what. They were (are) a family. Hundreds of volunteers from across the state, but they were united in a single mission: to love.

Yes, they were there to serve and to help rebuild their community, but their goal was to love. To love one another. To love those around them. To share the love with everyone they meet.

This is what Church is: a community of believers who love constantly. And this is what I saw as I worked alongside individuals who came together to love, a Church.

It didn’t matter that things didn’t go exactly as planned. It didn’t matter that some of us messed up once or twice. We loved one another and were able to love others. That was what it (this journey) is all about; Love. And in doing so, we grow closer to God.

So, maybe this was a little deeper than I expected it to be, but in the end, it’s all rather simple. A single word describes what the Church is. And I got to see it in action through those who gave their time and effort to volunteer and assist those in need.

For more information on how to assist those affected by the floods, please visit the #FloodSCWithLove website!

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