there was a pancake breakfast at 10, and the church spilling into the parking lot in trucks and cars and strollers and feet, and we got a lot of smiles because we have a lot of boys and i’m not sure what i’m going to do when i can’t hide behind my children anymore.

it’s a new church, and we’ve gone to the same dutch reformed one for the past two years, the same one trent went to as a kid and it’s only a five minute walk from our house. there was that, and the fact that there was nothing wrong with the church itself except there’s something wrong with every church, because we’re all sinners. trying our best to worship a savior, and sometimes the logs in our eyes get in the way of a hearty handshake.

the reformed church had good programs and good teaching and good worship, but i often felt awkward raising my hands and there wasn’t a lot of time for listening to Jesus. because everything was programmed and i wanted a little more room to breathe. a little more holy spirit.

i’ve been to this new church twice and it’s a 15-minute drive, but each time, i’ve cried. not because the worship is perfect (the first time i went, the guitar was off-key) and not because the preaching is better. it’s because i met Jesus in the pew beside me.

this isn’t a post about denominations, because i’m non-denominational. it’s a post about one particular girl needing something different.

i took trent today, and my hopes were high and we got there and he felt a migraine coming on, and so the lights were too bright and the congregation too loud, but more than that. trent ran into a man who had hurt him in the past.

and i cried again, only this time, it was out of discouragement, because while on one side of me, Jesus sat, on the other, was man. sinful man. a sinless God, and his sinful followers. and the latter, so much easier to see.

trent said hi to this man, because he’s not one to hold a grudge, but the man said nothing and i wanted to rage against the machine. because i want to find a church i can believe in.

but we can’t believe in church. we can only believe in God. the maker of the holy and un-holy, the repentant and the proud, and Jesus hangs out with all of them. so we need to, also.

this is something the writers of the book, inciting incidents: six stories of fighting disappointment in a flawed world discuss, writers including jeff goins, david hickman, blain hogan and mandy thompson, and it’s a book full of art and angst, a book that illustrates the pain of disillusionment, the pain of learning wrong theology and then un-learning it and what it means to step past culture and into Christ. to look beside us and find him in the pew.

as curator sarah cunningham says in the intro,

“you may find that when you peel back the false pretenses and allow yourself to be honest about your own shortcomings and the shortcomings of the world, each of these moments is an opportunity. that beyond them lies deeper peace and enormous growth. that they themselves are oftentimes the necessary ingredients to living a really good story.”

trent and i talked about it on the way home, about the four teenage boys who sat in front of us during the service, and one of them with ear buds in. and while three of them had sat during worship, one had stood. one lone worshiper.

“i don’t want to decide on a church for me,” said trent. “it’s not about me. the question is, will it help my boys turn into Christ-like men?”

and it is one thing we both agree on. we both want our children to live really good stories. to be the boys who, while their friends sit, continue to stand. to raise their hands. and to worship the living God.

today i’m honored to be giving away a copy of one of the most unique, beautiful books i’ve ever come across, inciting incidents… to win a copy, please tell me in the comments about your own flawed church experience, and what it’s taught you.

*linking with laura, jen, jennifer and michelle