More and more on my social media feeds I have been seeing a lot of churches boast of the cool, trendy new initiatives that they have begun. I have seen pictures of coffee bars that resemble Starbucks. I have seen lighting that resembles one seen on Broadway. I have read catchy sermon titles and have seen how people have brought the movies into their sermons.
In so many of these posts, I see all that churches are doing to attract new members, but I don’t hear them talking about the power of Jesus.
My husband passed away February 14, 2017, after a two-year battle with cancer.
To say he battled cancer is an understatement. He was hospitalized two weeks out of every month during the first year of treatment. He was hospitalized a total of 18 times. He was rushed to the emergency room 8 times. He spent close to 500 days separated from his two children over the course of two years. And eventually, the chemo, designed to get rid of the cancer, caused him to be paralyzed. And for the last four months of his life, he was paralyzed and confined to a bed.
My husband endured cycle after cycle of chemo. He was separated from his children many nights. He was hooked up to chemo for 24 hours at a time. He listened to the doctors tell him bad news after bad news. He was left paralyzed and unable to get out of bed. And he never said how much he wished our church would incorporate coffee bars like many others were. Never once did he say he wished the lighting in our sanctuary resembled the lighting he saw other churches boasting of on social media. He never told me how cool it was that churches were putting couches on the platform. He didn’t boast of the graphics and props on the platform that some churches were incorporating. He talked about Jesus. He quoted scriptures. He reminded me of sermons we had heard. And in the middle of the night, he sang songs of praise and worship to God and he spent his time praying. Because nothing a church does to strategize to bring in members helps you in the time of the storm. It is only Jesus.
On February 13, I had to do the most difficult task of telling my children their dad was not going to make it, and the next day at 7:24 the doctors declared him dead. And as I lay next to my children at night listening to my daughter sob uncontrollably because she misses her dad so much, I am not thinking about the trendiness of a church. I am thinking that my strength comes solely from God.
I don’t have my best friend with me anymore. And even though I take comfort in knowing he is in heaven, I can’t talk to my husband. I can’t text him during the day. I can’t share with him my frustrations. I can’t hold his hand. I can’t hug him. I can’t kiss him. He is not here. And as I drive to church during the week, I am not thinking that I wish the leadership at my church would read “how to grow your church” books and adopt cool sermon series. I am thinking how desperately I need Jesus.