Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why I Love My Church-by Heidi McLaughlin

I hated church.  I suffered through boring, guilt-ridden sermons, hard wooden seats and everyone telling me, to, “Shush”.  The endless rules left no breathing space for me to explore a world filled with adventure. I was sick of the hypocritical phonies with their plastic smiles on Sunday and then listening to their swearing and gossiping on Monday. Teenagers are observant and I found it hard to stomach that behaviour and at seventeen I mustered up the courage and told mom and dad, “I’m never coming to church again.”  It just about broke their hearts, but I stuck to my declaration and I became the prodigal daughter until I was thirty-two.

No I didn’t end up eating with the pigs, like the prodigal son, but my life ended in the ditch and on the brink of divorce.  Whether we believe in God or not there are times where we cry out “God help me.”  He always does and in desperation I responded.  After beginning my personal relationship with Christ I came to a crisis of belief.  Would I go back into a church, revisiting those stifling memories?

Whether we believe in God or not there are times when we cry out “God help me.”

With pounding heart I walked through the church doors and stepped back into my perceived demons. This time it was different.  I guess I had to end up at the bottom of the barrel to understand that we are all imperfect people.  In fact, I accepted the fact that we are all hypocritical...including me.  Now I understand when Jesus said that church is not for perfect people, but a hospital for the spiritually sick. That was me; imperfect, sick and looking for hope.

September is a nostalgic time for me.  As the leaves turn into brilliant orange, umber and shades of yellow, I reflect and am grateful for my colourful seasons. Today I love my church.  In my regular Sunday pew I look around at an audience of people on a journey struggling to find their way in life. Many people are in a horrible season and are lonely, addicted and looking for love and hope.  Now, instead of judgment I look into people’s eyes with compassion.  I am so grateful that I am connected to an authentic group of people seeking to learn how to live like Jesus.  To have a sense of belonging and ownership in my church, I took intentional steps to connect. My joy overflows when I teach the Bible to groups of women, when I mentor, instruct on leadership or am encouraging people in the prayer room.
I realize that our greatest power comes when we are connected to God and “one another.”  That connection takes place when we make a choice to step inside the door of an imperfect church. Maybe this is your season to make that bold choice.

Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends.
Her latest book RESTLESS FOR MORE: Fulfillment in Unexpected Places (Along with a FREE Study Guide) is available at;, or her website:


Peter Black said...

Heidi, thank you for sharing this segment of your life and spiritual journey. It's of God's mercy and grace, isn't it, that He draws us back to Himself and leads us into participating in His 'kingdom life' and going further in Christ than we'd ever gone before. It's wonderful how he's using you now to minister effectively among women. ~~+~~

Anonymous said...

Thank you Peter for your encouraging words. It's true isn't it, that our biggest messes write our greatest messages. Now that I look back I am so grateful for all those awful experiences, it certainly softened my heart to be able to look at the world with compassion. Kingdom work is never boring, is it Peter? God is so amazing, what a journey we are on!

Peter Black said...

Boring? Never! Can hardly get turned around but there's challenge and / or cheer over something. Can't even get retired (BIG smile), there's so much action, as Father God gives the health and strength. (It's a needy world, and some lovely people out there.) ~~+~~

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