CHURCH AS FAMILY // Stephanie Harrison

"It's a family not a business," said Pastor Banning, and I knew exactly what he meant. The amount of times I've seen people treat church the way we treat restaurants — giving it a star rating and judging what it has to offer, basing it on word-of-mouth reviews — but it was painfully obvious that I couldn't palm this lesson off to someone else. I'm guilty of walking into church, grabbing a menu and seeing what it has to offer. I've been the one failing to treat it like family where I should be delving in, investing in others, and doing what needs to be done.

On Sunday, Pastor Banning challenged us: the way we approach something dictates how we interact with it. He gave the example of Thanksgiving and his yearly role of potato-peeler. I had my first Thanksgiving last November and even that first exposure shot it to favorite holiday status in my ranks. I went to three celebrations, and I couldn't get over how welcoming and loving the crowds were — everyone pitched in. Isn't that the perfect image of church? Even without a burning passion for yams, Pastor Banning still took up his vegetable peeler every year because it needed to be done, and that had become his reoccurring role. I'm not saying that we should reluctantly do things we're not passionate about, but it's this beautiful metaphor for being a team player and getting your hands dirty to lighten others' loads.

There's a sense of responsibility in the family and body of Christ to become mature. Waltzing in twice a year or skipping out early to avoid conversations with people — both of these can keep us immature. There's maturity in tapping into the relationships, intimacy and service God has for us and I believe that's the heart of the local church. We're not all called to be potato peelers, but we're certainly called to be something as we grow God's family.