Church bleeds from my veins.
Papa was a pastor, and I grew up thinking that the church building was just as much part of my home as the bathroom, although I didn't work that out in the most graphic of ways.
I recall running through the sanctuary--not on Sunday morning when it was was a sin, but on a weekday afternoon when holiness was looser. The church was like a playground to me, offering much more space than the tiny parsonage next door, and letting Mom have a few minutes of sanity whilst I roamed the property.
My brother and I used to crawl under the pews while the church pianist practiced and the room was dark. She suffered from delusions, and believed she was a former Communist, now a U.S. spy, and she knew that her previous employers would eventually hunt her down. Robert and I would sneak around making creaking noises on the floors, popping up every now and then, and trying to cough like Communists, to watch her jump from the piano bench.
Growing up a PK provides a singular perspective on the church. I have been a pastor for over twenty-five years, and serve as a pastor now. I have seen the church from the inside out.
I have observed the way a church can love a person into faith in Jesus, and I have seen how a church--even the same church--can convince a person to turn around and walk fast in the opposite direction. I can delineate the methods of subversive torture a church can use to ravage its leaders, and I can testify to the wonder of a soul restored and given hope in the midst of darkness and evil and guilt.
As a result, I have a perpetual question on my heart. I live with it every day, and although I hope it will be answered before I die, I do not anticipate that resolution. The question is this: Is the church God's agent for grace?
I want the answer to be yes.
What is your answer?