Friday, July 11, 2014

Finding Our Church

Looking back over our first year of marriage, one of the biggest things that's helped us grow spiritually is the teachings at our church, Berean Bible Church. Today I'm sharing with you how and why we came to be attenders of this church.

Out of all the things to consider before getting married, the most important questions to ask is: do we share the same belief? For Curtis and I, this seemed simple. We are both Christians, and had attended the same church for 10 years. While this could be simplified to "do we share the same religion," I think it goes much deeper than that. You can say you're a Christian, but that in itself can have so many different meanings. There are many different denominations of churches, as well as versions and interpretations of the Bible. Then even deeper than that, how do you actively grow and live out what you believe in your daily life? I think that if the beliefs of a couple align, they will have a significantly better chance at making it together, because what you believe is the foundation for all your thoughts, world views, goals, interests, and more.

Growing up, Curtis and I had been tremendously blessed to be able to sit under the teachings of a mentor and good friend, Ken McElreath. Listening to one of his lessons is like drinking from a fire hydrant. Within the first 10 minutes of any lesson, I can learn so much, and already have a page of notes to study and consider. With Ken, it wasn't ever just a Bible lesson that we could sit through, and walk away from and be good for a week. Every Sunday, we were challenged to re-evaluate how we read our Bibles, what we believed, and how to live our daily lives. What we learned from him has changed the way we think and how we studied the Bible. I personally had attended his Sunday school class on-and-off since 3rd grade with the rest of my family, so I would say that his teaching has affected my spiritual walk almost as long as I've been a believer.

Ken McElreath, speaking at our wedding reception

Out of all of the prayers I said before and while in the process of moving to Tucson, the most important one was that God would bring us to the right church. Curtis and I knew we loved Ken's teaching, and decided that the teaching was the most important part about our decision. We wanted a pastor who would go deep into the Word, giving a good expository message, and would study the Bible verse-by-verse, using the rest of the Bible to determine what it says. If we could find a church where we agreed with its core beliefs and studied the Bible in this way, we could be content. The question was, did such a church exist, and would we be able to find it in this big city?

God is good, and answered our prayers quickly. In our second week of our church search, we came across one on the internet. "Berean Bible Church." This looked like a good sign, since the Bereans are mentioned in Acts 17:11, where it says that "they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." We found some messages online, liked what we heard and decided it was worth a visit.

Our first Sunday morning at Berean Bible Church was one of the most encouraging days. We entered the small church and were warmly greeted by many, as it is easy for new people to stand out in a smaller church. But the fact that we were new wasn't the only way we stood out… we noticed we were also possibly the youngest in the building. (Upon further investigation, we found this to be true!) We sat close to the back, and a woman came up to introduce herself - she was the Pastor's wife. The service then started with worship, and we were in for such a pleasant surprise to find that the worship team consisted of a piano (played by the pastor's wife) and a singer, and almost every song was straight from the hymnal. It was so simple and refreshing! I don't remember all the different elements, but there was worship, offering, announcements, more worship, and then the message. Oh, what a wonderful message! At this time, the church was going through the book of Ephesians. We weren't sure how long the sermon would go since this was a church service and normal services last an hour with a half-hour sermon. But after a deep, insightful lesson, I looked at the clock and was surprised to see that the sermon was nearly an hour long! I'm pretty sure we were sold at this point. We were invited to a snacks and fellowship time after the service, where we talked to the Pastor and an Elder, along with their wives, and several other attenders. I already knew then that I wanted to return to this church, but getting to know the Pastor & his wife better came with another blessing - they reminded me so much of Ken and his wife Marsha back at home. We had found the "Southwest Trekkers Bible Study"!!It was like God was saying "see? Nothing's impossible with Me. Welcome home!"

We continued attending Berean Bible Church, and are still loving it. We're challenged each week with a new sermon, and it's helped us to get better with reading the Bible together. We love being in our church, surrounded by older and more mature believers and couples. We really enjoy helping with their technology and working on the soundboard during service some Sundays. I know that throughout our time with the Navy, there will many churches we'll attend, and I hope that we can find a church like this, or like Ken's Bible study, everywhere we live.

To anyone who may be in a situation like we were, our advice is first off to pray that God would make it clear where you should be. Make a list of the most important things you're looking for. Focus on the most important thing, and you will find other things fall into place. For us, we thought teaching was most important, and though we preferred simpler worship times, we were willing to go with anything if the teaching was what we were looking for. When it's the right place, I believe God will make it work out. Make sure your core beliefs align with the pastor's, and the church's mission statement. Remember that church isn't supposed to make you feel comfortable - while fellowship and happy messages feel good, in order to grow spiritually, you need to be challenged and encouraged to pursue your own personal walk with God. Once you have found the church that is where you know God is leading you, commit to going as often as possible and get involved. Be assertive in finding ways that you can serve the church and give back. 

To anyone interested in listening to Ken McElreath's teachings, visit If you're interested in Berean Bible Church, visit

These pictures are all from 4 years ago today, coming home from our 3rd Mexico Missions trip together. We we just silly pair with an equally crazy group of friends. :)

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