Practical Church Life
Do you ever feel like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to church? I do. I haven’t fit in the spot for over 50 years. For about 10 years back in the 60s and 70s I had the most wonderful experience with Ecclesia – exactly what Doug wrote about in his book (SO, YOU WANT TO DO EKKLESIA). In fact, that’s where I first met Doug Krieger in 1963 at a conference in Lake Arrowhead, California. (Not to date myself. After all I’ve been 39 for so many years, I’ve lost count).
But let’s go back a few years when my story really begins. I was saved on Easter Sunday in a Baptist Church in Montebello, California thanks to the work and Godly prayers of my sister but like most kids, I didn’t take it very seriously. Then something life changing happened in my senior year of high school out in Palm Springs. My dad caught me in a lie (imagine that?) but the unusual punishment was being told I had to go to Forest Home Christian Conference Center for winter camp. I skated through that but was intrigued when they said they were looking for summer employees.
I applied and got a job as a life guard. During that summer I heard some of the best speakers there were, and met some of the most wonderful kids I had ever met…young people committed to the Lord. To make a long story really short, I went off to college at UC Davis on fire for the Lord. I got involved in church and Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, held Bible studies in the dorm and shared the gospel with anyone who would listen. By my Junior year I began to run out of steam (maybe I peaked too early). I was Vice President of Inter Varsity but felt more like an actor than a spirit filled Christian. I was going through the motions. A particularly low point was when a friend asked me at the Inter Varsity picnic the day before school began if I was going to have a Bible Study again. I said, “Yeah, sure Joe,” but I felt empty inside. A couple of weeks later Joe blew his brains out with a shotgun in his pickup truck. Reality check! I was devastated and felt empty inside.
It was downhill from there during 1962-63. By the end of the year I was done. I told Him so. Church was dead (at least to me). I was through. I just didn’t know where to go or what to do. Fortunately, the summer of ’63 I rolled the dice one more time and went to a college conference at Hume Lake. I will never forget the night that Chuck Farrah spoke. He talked about being connected in the Body of Christ, getting your sustenance from the Lord and other Christians. The Christian life comes from being connected in the Body of Christ in an organic way – not necessarily “organizational”. He went on to talk about how every member of the Body from the least to the greatest, needed to be connected and function, to share life, even from the smallest toe. I was so impressed, I prayed that night for the Lord to show me where I could find such an experience.
Here I was, done and giving up at 20 years old! That really sounds pretty pitiful looking back, but I was so touched by the Lord, I went back to UC Davis and began to look for that living Body of Christ where everyone shared and loved one another as only a living Christian could. Within 3 months I found it! I fell in love with the living God, our Lord and His Body! I have never been the same since. I had such a wonderful experience for the next 10 years or so, it will take some time to explain and then what happened after that.
So stay tuned.