Growing up in South Carolina, I went to an amazing church that really helped to ground me in my faith and walk with God. I love that church, and they are so dear to me, and when I'm back home, I still visit. The people from that church are special to me and I love them, and I got my first experience in ministry from them. I had mentors there and I had great memories, and met one of my best friends. I love that church. Such was true when I first came to college; however, I wasn't sure how I was going to find a home-church in Columbia like the one I had at home. Of course, I could never replace that original home church, but I definitely needed somewhere to make roots and grow from while I was away.
Calvary Chapel Lexington
I have been going there now for about 3 years, Frank started attending there while I was back home two school years ago, and it's the church we got married in! Here are 7 things, of the many, about my church that make me so thankful for them:
#1. The Pastor
Pastor John Hoppe and his wife are simply amazing people. I am thankful for their guidance and wisdom in our church family. Pastor John uses the expository method to teach the Bible. I'm thankful for this because he does not sugar-coat anything. He tells exactly what's in the Bible, gives the context (doesn't take it out of context) and then explains it in terms that people of our culture could understand. It's wonderful. Although I get a lot of this teaching from school already, I somehow grow so much more in my understanding at church! I am so thankful for the team he and Miss Heidi make to lead our church, under the guidance of Christ.
#2. The Welcoming
During our first semester as a married couple, Frank and I decided to try and start plugging into the church a little more and get to know some more people. We signed up for a ministry Calvary has on Sunday mornings called "First Touch". The purpose of First Touch is to welcome people on their way into church, give them a genuine smile, maybe introduce ourselves, answer questions if they have any, and just love the people coming and going from the service. That's one of the things that really drew me to Calvary: all the welcoming people who are there. I am so thankful for such a loving community in my church.
#3. Life Groups
Another way our church encourages community and fellowship is through something called Life Groups. Since we don't have Sunday school classes between services, we meet in groups during the week and fellowship and discuss the Sunday sermon, and other spiritual matters. We help each other grow and we get to know that we're not alone in the church when we're there on Sunday. I am so thankful for this; in the Life Groups I have been a part of, time together has been so edifying and I loved communing with fellow believers outside of the church environment. I am so thankful for Life Groups.
#4. Women's Bible Study
Women's Bible Study has been such a blessing in itself. I have never been a part of a women's Bible study before and I wasn't sure what to expect in going to one. Well my friend and I have been going for the past few weeks and overall, we have really loved being there. Even in these few weeks we've been meeting, I have felt so encouraged by ladies who come from backgrounds like mine, they have been so uplifting as I've slowly started to share bits and pieces of myself, and they've prayed for me too. I have loved getting know the ladies in the women's Bible study at church, and I am so thankful that the ministry to women exists; I never knew what it would be all about, but now, I understand. I am so thankful for the ministry and for all the ladies involved in it.
#5. U-Turn for Christ
U-Turn for Christ is a ministry that the Calvary Chapel movement does all over the country. There's a U-Turn campus stationed at Calvary in Lexington. What is it? U-Turn for Christ is a ministry that reaches out to addicts of all kinds by taking them in, helping them detox, and training them in the way of God's truth and love. While they're in the program, they do service around the church, attend every church service and Bible study and they receive personal counseling to help them work through things of their past. All the while, they are encouraged to learn and grow towards their Creator. I am so thankful for this ministry! There have been so many good, good-hearted people who have come through that program and are making such great differences in the world for Christ now! And I am so thankful for the people I know who have come through that ministry, and who are now serving as Christ-lovers in our church!
#6. Auto Mechanic Service
I did not know this little ministry existed until recently. Calvary Chapel has on-campus auto mechanic maintenance offered to the staff and congregation of the church. How did I find this out? Our car died this week :( We just got the oil changed and they told us it would be a good idea to get a new battery soon. When it wouldn't start the other day, we figured it was the battery. Well this morning Frank texted the youth pastor, Oakley, asking for some prayer for provision since our car died. Oakley then called me asking where the car was and what we thought was wrong with it. I said it was the battery, and he said that he and the mechanic there would come and see what they can do with the car. Wow! When they got here, the mechanic, Timmy, realized a few things: the battery was loose, there was a rat's nest in the engine block (no rats; it wasn't from us in the time we've had with it - we've only had it since May.), and the fuel pump was out of order. There wasn't any pressure on the fuel thingy anymore! Timmy told me of some things he would be able to do to help me, in labor and financially. I'm so thankful for the service he and the others provide, and for the integrity they show in their work.
#7. Youth Ministry
The Youth Ministry program is where I first got plugged in to Calvary. I went to the youth group on Wednesday night for an assignment given to me in one of my Youth ministry major courses. I was a little skeptical going there because it was an entirely different atmosphere than what I was used to. But after witnessing the fellowship of all the students, and talking with the youth pastor, Oakley, I noticed a completely different light of God shining through here that I hadn't seen anywhere else. Now, students from all over Lexington are bringing that light of Christ into their schools on their own, wanting their peers to know the love of God like they do. I am so thankful for the work God is doing in the Youth Ministry, and the work He is doing through the youth of Calvary!
If you're ever in the Columbia area and need some fellowship or communion, stop by 1156 Barr Rd.! We are a big family, each member having problems, and every other member waiting to help.
To learn more about our congregation, visit cclexington.org/!
To learn more about our congregation, visit cclexington.org/!
Although I began typing this blog post before October 3, 2013, I want to dedicate its contents to Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, who passed from earth to heaven on October 3, 2013. His ministry began with hippies in the 60's out in California, and has grown into 1600 churches worldwide by the grace and power of God. He has revolutionized seeker-sensitive worship and has heavily impacted the expository teaching style in church. All because of the work God has done in and through him. He is gone from the world, dead in flesh, but more alive in Christ than he ever was here.
*I do not own any photos in this post. All credits go to cclexington.org