What if Church was like an AA Meeting?


Alcoholics Anonymous has been a life saver for so many recovering from the disease of alcoholism.  Those struggling with their addiction can find a safe place close to them where they meet with a group of other’s struggling with the same addiction and not feel judged.

I went on a mission trip almost two decades ago to Philadelphia and worked in a homeless shelter for a week with a church group.  While there we visited an African American church.  It was quite a different experience from anywhere I’d been before.  The worship was lively and loud.  The preacher spoke with such emphasis you’d have to be dead to sleep through his sermon. The atmosphere was full of life.  Even after all this time I’ll never forget what it felt like being there.

But the thing that impressed even more than the worship and preaching was the relationship I heard going on on the pew behind me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the young African American woman struggling to find the place in the Bible where the pastor said to turn. A lady sitting close beside gently took her hand and helped her find the passage she was looking for.  The words she spoke next brought comfort and peace to my heart. They were such a testimony of the love of Christ through His body.  She said, “It’s ok. We gonna walk this walk together.”

I’ve thought of her words hundreds of times since that day. We gonna walk this walk together. 

Isn’t that what the church is all about?  None of us are perfect. All of us struggle with the human disease of sin. God calls us to come together in fellowship with one another to encourage one another, because the days are evil and we all struggle against the disease of sin.

I sometimes wonder how the church would be if it was more like an AA meeting.  Maybe a little like these two ladies sitting on the pew behind me.

After what our family has been through, church has the most difficult place for us to go.

My counselor says it’s OK to stay out of church for a while to give myself time to heal, but I guess the most frustrating thing about all this is – isn’t the church the place where we can go and heal?

My husband says church should be one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

After working in a correctional facility for almost 25 years around men with sins they couldn’t hide, my husband knows the need for this truth only too well. He was an amazing teacher to these guys, teaching them a trade and helping them find purpose for the day they’d finally get out of prison and start their new life.  His classroom was a safe place.

When he retired the inmates in his class wrote messages of appreciation and thanksgiving on a beautifully handmade card.  One message in particular that stood out to me was the inmate who said, “thank you for giving us a second chance at life.”

I thank God my husband showed me the same grace that he did his inmates. I’ll never stop being thankful he gave our marriage a second chance.

I know that I’ve voiced some frustrations on this blog about the church.  I don’t want to turn anyone away from it, because I know God loves the church.

And I have met some truly wonderful people in the church.

And I know that there are so many more.

So rather than give up on the church, I will just continue  to pray on the good days and the bad that God will give me the grace to be the change that I want to see, the courage to tell my story without fear of rejection, and the love that offers others an unlimited supply of second chances…

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