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  • janetmchenry

Church is not the Foundation

A little reflection on the 50th anniversary this week of my faith commitment. I was raised going to church in Hudson in upstate New York.

Every Sunday we five kids put on our best clothes and headed out the door with Mom and Dad. My sister Nan and I were old enough to sing in the girls’ choir, so for the first service we put on choir robes and sang from sideways pews up the steps by the altar. After the service we quickly hung up those choir robes and ran upstairs in the church hall to get our doughnut and juice. After another hour in Sunday school, we met up with our parents and the rest of our siblings.

My not-very-vast understanding of the faith came from habits. Rituals. You went to church. You said the faith responses. You said the prayers. You sang the hymns. You did your best to stay awake during the sermon. Church was the foundation of my faith all through high school. We moved to the West for my mother’s health and continued to go to church as we moved to Phoenix my eighth grade year, then Albuquerque my ninth grade year, and Sacramento for my high school years.

Sometime during the summer after my senior year of high school, we learned the married minister had been seeing the married women’s ministries director. And all of a sudden the foundation of my faith crumbled. If the leader of the church failed, what was that faith thing all about anyway?

I went off to college, where learning seemingly became more of a life foundation. Then in my sophomore year my roommate and a friend took me to a free movie: “For Pete’s Sake.” The character Pete was a mess of wrong thinking and behavior but learned that he could experience freedom through a personal relationship with Christ.


That word kept bouncing around in my head. I learned for the first time that faith should be personal. That others were not responsible for my faith. Instead, I could have a personal relationship with God . . . simply by my choice to believe and put my faith in Jesus.

I made a commitment to follow Christ that night. And I learned that church is never meant to be a faith foundation; it’s simply there for fellowship with other believers, for a forum for worshipping the God who desires that we have a relationship with him, and for challenge for personal growth.

I now go to church because I love being with others who also follow the God I love. I go to church to be challenged by God’s Word. And I go to church to worship. While I can worship from home, I know that attending church is critical to my spiritual formation and for the expression of my faith.

Church is not my foundation–Jesus is–but church does encourage me to keep #lookingup. If you’ve not been to church in a while, I pray you go back to church soon–not because someone said you should but because it provides a setting where you can grow in your own faith commitment.

Janet celebrated the 50th anniversary of her commitment to Christ this week. A speaker and author of 24 books–six on prayer–she would love to connect with you:

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