And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24–25 NIV)

I grew up in church but hated church; it was long, over the top and so strict that for a while the only reason why I went was because, well I needed a roof over my head. And in my grandmother’s house, it was her rules or you better quickly find yourself another place to live. Aaaarg growing up was hilarious.

I think I really came to a deeper understanding of church in high school and in relationship with God, in varsity.

I have always been a friendly, loving and open person. Entrenched in all of that is a young woman who is incredibly protective of her heart space. Being part of church and when I say “part of”, I mean doing life with and having people who care, notice and keep you accountable on your walk with God, changed and challenged me. The Ntombi who though that people only deserved to see and know the good and perfect part of her, had very little room to thrive in a community where she found people who loved her without an agenda. So much of the way I am able to love and pour of myself has been influenced by my church family.

Over the last couple of months, I have found myself displaced, disgruntled and hurt by the church community.  At first it was because of witnessing how it felt as though I was planted in a place that had very little grace for imperfect members. People were acknowledged, included and cared for based on how much they served and who deemed their serving important. That’s been a rather strange phenomenon for me. What are we doing? I have been two-sided about this for a long time…. If you are going through something, reach out. If you need help or prayer, reach out. But I also know that there are many people who cope the best way they know how. People who don’t know how to lean in, who don’t trust, don’t understand or believe in the notion of church family.  We all come from different backgrounds and therefore speak and are responsive to different love languages.

I am frustrated by the mentality that says “I will only check up on people who check-up one me. Why didn’t you call me?”. Where are the ones who are God-taught, know better and do better. What has happened to the heart of the church? What has happened to our God-breathed upon maturity? You know, a sense of community built on bricks of wisdom. All of this hit me hard when I woke up one and realised that I am one of those people who have been out of action and out of church site for a while. No-one noticed. No one checked in (Ok, except for my friend Renee but she doesn’t count cause shes my forever place of safety). All of this made me wonder if I was ever really plugged in? Had I taken the time to build and nurture relationships? Who was I accountable to?

On the other hand, who, in church was looking out for me? Genuinely… not just when they bump into me at the mall or see a supposedly nice Tweet or Insta-post of mine and only then remember that I exist. Whichever way you look at it we all need to do better. Everyone who walks in through the doors of church needs to be accountable to someone. You and I need to be accountable for someone. Next time you notice that someone is being shady by walking in and out of church as if they don’t exist, don’t just pray for them but reach out to them and don’t grow weary.  The world can be a lonely place and church shouldn’t be one of those places. The church cannot be more judgemental than the every other place.

I have been praying for God to take my heart, breathe life into it and renew my understanding of His heartbeat for the church. To rise up and take responsibility where I have let go and continue to downplay my role in the body. To heal where I have been hurt, shocked and have allowed myself to become disengaged.  For me to be the church in the place of my planting.

And they will know us by our love

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