Big Q: When did you first feel at home in the church?

I was four years old and went to the evening service (remember those?) with my mom and dad. In those days they had time for testimonies during the service, and as testimony time came to a close, the pastor asked if anyone else would like to share. I squeezed out from between my parents and toddled up to the chancel where I announced that I’d learned a new hymn from my mom that afternoon that I wanted to share. I stood there and sang two verses of “O Happy Day,” which was received with great appreciation. My mom was in anguish (in her eyes showing off was not proper behavior), my dad was beaming, and I was one happy and included little boy.

George Elia
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts

Church Home

I was four years old and went to the evening service (remember those?) with my mom and dad. In those days they had time for testimonies during the service, and as testimony time came to a close, the pastor asked if anyone else would like to share. I squeezed out from between my parents and toddled up to the chancel where I announced that I’d learned a new hymn from my mom that afternoon that I wanted to share. I stood there and sang two verses of “O Happy Day,” which was received with great appreciation. My mom was in anguish (in her eyes showing off was not proper behavior), my dad was beaming, and I was one happy and included little boy.

George Elia
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts

When I was in elementary school, my best friend, Kay, and I decided that, as we were learning the Apostles’ Creed (which was on page 306) we would fill in the o’s with pencil. Our church had these little golf pencils which we put to good use. Over time, as we sat in various places throughout the church, we would find marked-up pages and know we had already sat in that seat before. It was our way of showing our “ownership.” Since then, I have always thought children need to make church their own.

Ann Richards
Batavia, Illinois

The first time I felt at home in a new church was when someone greeted me by name when I walked in. It was the difference between being seen and being known. When I wasn’t there, my church family noticed, and they rejoiced at every opportunity they had to worship alongside me.

Thomas Cellilli IV
Chicago, Illinois

In the church where I grew up, I always felt at home. I was raised in the Sunday school room and the youth group loft, the gymnasium, and the sanctuary. It was a comfort-able constant in my life and a place I was known, cared for, and encouraged in faith. I never felt like I had to hold back from being myself in my church as a kid, and I am really grateful that I had that experience.

Nella Hogberg
Boston, Massachusetts

p class=”p1″>When I was growing up, my church didn’t own a building, so we rented out a conference room in a local Holiday Inn. When we finally purchased our first building we were ecstatic, but then we quickly realized that when you own the building you also have to clean it. I tend to get grossed out by public bathrooms, but my friends and I found ourselves actually volunteering to clean the bathrooms at church every Sunday morning. We had this inherent sense of pride and ownership, and we wanted that to be reflected even in the bathrooms. Our bathrooms.

Jane Chao
Chicago, Illinois

At twelve years old, I pretty much wanted to spend every waking hour at church. Whether it meant bravely attempting to raise my hands in worship on Friday nights, Wednesday chilling with my youth pastor, or my mom dragging me to early morning prayer, church always felt safe. I could confidently seek God and it’s where I discovered he was constantly seeking me.

Bruce Kim
Los Angeles, California

When I taught vacation Bible school as a junior-high and high-school student. I could wander anywhere and feel comfortable.

Lauren Stewart 

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