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Why Did I Commit To This Church?

Why should you commit to a church? What’s the point in staying? What do you do when you are unhappy or unsatisfied with the church community you are a part of, or there are real problems that have become evident?

Laura and I were chatting about this the other day and realized that this is a topic deeply important for a lot of us Asian American Christians. There is a lot of pain, frustration, and sometimes angst around finding and committing to a church. A lot of us might have experienced difficulties growing up in an immigrant Chinese or Korean church. Others, like me, grew up in a majority-white church but found it hard to find real commonality with other families. Some of us grew up in the church, others of us only really grasped a strong sense of Christian community later on in life.

Everyone has a different experience when it comes to church commitment and we all come into this process with different perspectives. This post (with a possible Part II to come) will combine the stories and experiences from a few individuals who all have agreed to share some of their thoughts and narrative behind their decision to commit to their current church.

“I had come in exhausted from church hopping for a year, trying to find a space that felt safe.”

— Hannah

I started attending Redeemer Community Church about 2 years ago. I had come in exhausted from church hopping for a year, trying to find a space that felt safe. Redeemer was a refuge for me to attend after particularly heart breaking experiences with Christian community. After burning out from ministry in college and always serving in church ever since I was a kid, I wanted to take a break and just be. 

From the beginning, I felt like you could observe the quality of relationships that the members had together. I still can’t remember why I chose to come to Redeemer the day that I did, but I felt God’s gentle nudge to just go. And to keep going. 

It was not instantaneous for me to get to know this community more. But I was struck by the members and staff transparency, them sharing the struggles that they were going through and the ask for partnership/mutuality. Their practice of living interdependently has made me better understand the heart of God. 

I didn’t know how much fun and joy I could experience being part of a Christian community. I have never laughed so much while being part of a church (the members are seriously so funny and have taught me so much of God’s joy.) Laughter wasn’t the only thing that  drew me towards Redeemer, though. I think what really kept me coming back to Redeemer was the members’ commitment to each other and their community. They lived together through interdependence. I was struck at how tangibly the members intertwined their lives and supported each other and the community through financial and material means. I was and still am struck by how they take care of each other like family. They hold each other even in the midst of racial injustice, a global pandemic, sickness, and death. 

I strongly feel that since coming to Redeemer, God has asked me to give up my stronghold of independence and skepticism of Christian community. I have learned so much about God’s heart, gentleness, and restoration through attending Redeemer. I thought that committing to a church meant that I would lose a lot: I’m sacrificing my independence and reliance on the self, the safety of dipping out when things get hard. However, I also feel like I’m actually gaining so much more.

I have gained a family that I am very grateful for, the honor of being known, and learning how to care deeply for the people around me. Praise God.

“I’m reminded that the faith journey comprises of steps to follow God’s leaning and a lifetime duration of learning and adjusting to His plan.”

— Gigi

A little over a year ago I dediced to join a new church plant in my city. I had an amazing community at my home church in Santa Clara, but after 4 years of serving right after college, I felt the season there was starting to close.

The middle of last year year, I attended a few local blacklivesmatter protests in my city led by a group of local high school seniors. They gathered a huge amount of people, the majority of whom looked no older than 22. There was a moment towards the end of the protest when the crowd began to verbally attack the mayor, police officials, and even the protest leaders. In this moment, there was a profound self-reflection of being in-between. I was in-between the two representing age groups, in-between the cultures of white-normative professionalism and dismantling youthful advocacy, and in-between a traditional American church and a progressive one.

Being in my home church for these past years had opened my eyes to the pursuit of reconciliation between first-gen and second-gen Asian American immigrant churches. To this day, this is even more clearly defined in their vision and a reconciliation ministry my home church friends continue to wrestle with. As for myself, I began to have this desire for the same kind of ministry of reconciliation between racial and ethnic groups in my city. I began to engage more with American history, American church history, and AAPI history. I went through the curriculum from the BeTheBridge group (a Christian racial reconciliation ministry), read a handful of books, and led an Asian American Identity workshop as part of my learning journey.When the time came, it took a lot of prayer, conversations, and tears to make the change to my new church. It probably took me over a year of conversations before I officially left my home church and committed to my current church, a local and ethnically-diverse church plant.

As I was contemplating on what to write—correction—struggling to write on the topic of church and commitment, I was struggling to find the points of my story, the lesson learned, or an inspirational conclusion. In reality, I’ve found comfort and strength in reflecting on the journey it took took to make that step of faith of change or commitment. I’m reminded that the faith journey comprises of steps to follow God’s leaning and a lifetime duration of learning and adjusting to His plan. Whenever my commitment to my church gets hard (and it certainly gets hard), I find comfort in recalling the journey it took to get here and how the steps were done in faith. It’s a faith of actively listening to God’s voice and adjusting accordingly. I’m holding His hand with one and reaching out with an open hand in the other.

“I feel like God is telling me: ‘Really. It’s okay to let go. Just trust me. Keep your eyes on me.'”

— Andrew

Eve and I are currently committed to EDEN church in Campbell, CA. The past couple months has been a combination of restlessness, fear of judgment, and waiting upon God for next steps in terms of forging forward in life as a newly married couple.

Restlessness. I think my genuine desire to seek God in my life also makes me impatient. I constantly want to solidify future direction. “We should have this figured out by now,” has been my own internal critique. I’m learning that there are many things in life that can’t be accelerated or sped up by simply “figuring things out.” I’m learning to be okay just accepting the season for what it is.

Fear of judgment. Having left a very intentional, loving community back in San Francisco that I was a part of for all of my single life after college, I’ve constantly questioned what it means to take a step back post-marriage and to re-evaluate things as a new couple. I have to admit that there was a lot of fear of judgement or “making the wrong choice” when it came to picking and committing to a new church. Part of it was unintentional or perceived pressure from others. Part of it was pressure that we put on ourselves. Rather than focus on the positive aspects of our life change, this made us more aware of only the negative.

Finally, waiting on God. From the beginning, Eve and I decided that we didn’t want to see church as purely a consumeristic choice—we wanted to be open-handed and sensitive to where God was leading us. The only problem was, we felt like we were waiting around. We wanted “answers” on what to do next. A lot of our struggle these past few months has been on learning how to be okay in the in-between, to accept and enjoy the season for what it is. We’ve been telling ourselves that we want to be faithful and present to God in this specific moment without worrying too much about the future.

Throughout all of this, I think God has been teaching me specifically to truly accept a freedom and a grace that is beyond the fear of judgment or pressure to act a certain way. Saying goodbye to the church I was a part of for five years in San Francisco was really hard: I had to work through a fear of disappointment, judgment, or plain sadness from my closest friends and church family. But I feel like God is telling me: really. It’s okay to let go. Just trust me. Keep your eyes on me. It’s been requiring me to trust God even more.

God has been impressing upon me the truth that he is a God that is way bigger than any singular church: the same God I grew up with in my home church back in Syracuse, NY, the same God I followed during my college years, the same God I’m trying to pursue now in adult life. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the East Coast or the West Coast or in San Francisco or in Mountain View. God is also a God of the ages—six months or even a whole year of transition and struggling is a blink of an eye for his faithfulness towards me.

The mantra at EDEN church has been, “helping people take the next step in following Jesus.” When I look back, my whole life has been a series of small steps trying to do exactly that. Sometimes it is clear what to do. Sometimes it really is not. All I know is that I desire to live a life accompanied by Jesus, and for now, that means joining into the company of a local church. Eve and I have been learning to do that—trusting God each step of the way there.

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