About the Author

Shannan Martin is the author of Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted, wife of a jail chaplain, and mom to four kiddos. She's a big believer in community and salsa, and blogs at ShannanMartinWrites.com.

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  1. Shannan,
    I love the line, “He keeps showing up for us, often disguised as each other.” WE are the church. It’s not a building. This made me stop and ponder…if I am the church for someone else, am I warm and welcoming or am I stiff and fundamental. Truth is I vacillate between the two. Thanks for making me think…if someone looked at me, would my life arrow be pointing to Jesus? Great thought provoking post.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Hi Bev!

      I read this early this morning, before I was able to catch my breath and reply. It made me smile. I love that you’re always so willing to take a hard look at yourself. I can never have enough people like you in my life, cyber- or otherwise. xo

  2. Amen to this post, and amen to Bev’s comment. Church is the result of growing in love: if you’re growing, you’ll want to share His love, and people will see it. You’ll also find it more readily in others.

  3. Love this post! I’m a solid walnut pew girl…who now sits in a padded chair. Thank you for sharing your words and thoughts today, and reminding us of what is really important.

  4. I love the way you write. God uses you to speak to places of my heart I didn’t know existed. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Ouch! I haven’t felt at ease in my very small church for a very long time. Standoffish doesn’t really describe me but I just don’t have the connection (well, maybe it does!) We hired a new pastor 5 or 6 years ago and I’ve struggled since day one. I’ve had awesome church experiences in the past but know that I will stay here until God tells me to move. By His grace I will once again be part of a group where the Holy Spirit is welcome and moves in our presence!

    • I keep learning that the Spirit isn’t hampered by my own frustrations or picky preferences. What a relief! It can be so hard to find a common song to sing – we’re all so very different. But worshiping with others who might be “hard” for me to really bond with or agree with is turning out to be a beautiful surprise in its own way. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone in my “church can be hard!” sentiment. 🙂

  6. Shannan, love this post. You’re so right. Church isn’t a building, it’s a community . . . that God puts together around us. I appreciated your perspective that the people around us may be very different from us, may frustrate us at times, may be similar to us. We are community, and it’s my (our) privilege to learn to love as Jesus did. It’s our gift to come alongside each other when one of us falls off the bike. Thank you for this reminder. God just reminded me of someone I need to come alongside.

    • I look at my own kids and they way they get under each other’s craw constantly but also stick together like glue. That’s what I strive for!

  7. My favorite line is: “What God wants for us when it comes to community is that when we wreck our bike, there’s someone not far behind who will drop what they’re holding and sprint to us.” YES YES YES! Great article. Thank you for writing and posting. Have a blessed week.

    • Thank you for this sweet comment! It’s amazing what God can show us about the ways He wants to grow us up if we slow down enough to pay attention. (Preaching to myself!)

  8. God bless you for your beautifully written words! I need to find that warm welcome home in a very small town . Instead of trying, I have avoided ,believing that God hears me and is with me whether I am in church or not! But, I am struggling and lonely and in need of that comforting God centered home.

    • Small towns can be so hard for newcomers!
      For me, the best place to start when I arrived in a new community was to ask for help. I think people so often want to help but either don’t know how to serve our needs or convince themselves (with our help) that we’ve got it all together. Praying you find your people!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this message. You, through the Holy Spirit have answered my question; Why go to church?
    Bev, I do not know who you are but your words too completed my quest. Am I warm and welcoming or am I stiff and fundamental? I will find fellowship with all of the other church members and If we are then to go and be the church then I choose to put God first today and follow Him, I pray that I am used to witness what church is and where church is and even what… Love patience kindness forgiveness helpfulness understanding strength and it can go on.

    • I loved that line of Bev’s, too.
      And Marjorie, I have asked myself that question hundreds of times in recent years and he Keeps. On. Answering.
      Never once have I heard, “Nah, don’t bother.” It honestly keeps me going!

  10. Shannan,

    What a lovely message that you have shared with us this morning, thank-you. In this life we all share we should look out (for) and reach out (to) one another each day, simple as that.
    Blessings,

    Penny

  11. Shannan, thank you and praise to our Father for these gentle words trying to break through to a hurt, and shaky heart. I am so grateful for the words from Bev that “we are the church.” We are a family united in Christ regardless of what church we go to or denomination we follow-we are united by His love. May we all imitate that gentle love, seeking Him in each other so that we may share our burdens and His victories together in the bonds of church family 🙂

  12. Your word this morning described what many Christians feel but won’t voice for fear of being judged by their sisters and brothers in Christ. Attending church regularly keeps us believers connected and on the right path, God’s path. It’s difficult to pursue a journey alone. It’s more fun when completed with a team. We typically arrive at the destination when done in a group. You are also more capable of bringing others along side you when you journey together. God designed it to be that way. Jesus’ journey was completed with a team so it only make sense that we do the same…..
    Be encouraged!

  13. I have really been struggling with community and am dying inside for lack of it. I have been in the church my entire life of 53 years. Was active until I switched churches about 3 years ago. Love the preaching and the people, would consider them friends, Godly, however, I’ve been gone 5 weeks due to illness and out of town, & haven’t heard from a soul. I’m 53, raised 3 kids as a single parent, until recently extremely active for 20+ years in Children’s ministry, took break for summer from teaching a LifeGroup, and feel extremely disconnected. Met with my sis in TX last week (I’m in Ohio) & she said to meet with a Pastor to discuss. Not sure what to say other than “I feel disconnected.” Have volunteered countless times, and asked to volunteer countless times, just to NEVER be called or followed up upon. Filled out countless forms for young women’s ministry as I have always mentored younger women (and do so outside of church). No life groups for women over 50, single. All married, young, with young children, mens, etc. Advice anyone????? PS: Meeting with female worship pastor next week.

    • Godsjoys62, my heart hurts for you. I have friends who have felt the same way, like no one noticed when they were gone. It may be that people notice, they just didn’t take the next step to call or email to check in on you. Is there a close-ish friend or two who you can just invite over for tea just to chat and maybe let her know some of your needs? I bet there are ladies in your church who would love to come alongside you and help but they may not know what it is that you need. In the meantime, keep running to Jesus with your loneliness and He will show you Himself. Hugs to you!

    • This touches on so much of what I’m learning. My husband and I have been on a true quest to figure out what matters most. For us, it turns out not to be the charisma or “skill” of the pastor, but the imperfect community of neighbors who keep showing up. It’s humbling and hard sometimes. It shines a light on many ugly things within us. But I’m starting to see that when I expect unrealistic things from our leader, it sets a whole weird tone that everyone should be something more than we were ever made to be. It takes the pressure off all of us and let’s God do the heavy lifting! May God continue to guide you. I wish I could bring you a coffee cake!

      • Absolutely. I don’t believe it’s necessarily the Pastor’s responsibility, as we have a wonderful pastor. It really boils down to community, cliques, imperfect people, and God creating us to be with others.

    • Godsjoy62,

      Praying for you. May God send a good church friend your way. I pray your talk with pastor goes well. It is a shame, but that often happens in churches. People get busy and forget to contact you. May God guide you as to the next step to take. I pray for some peace and contentment in your soul.

      Blessings 🙂

  14. Well- I am in a hard time right now, lots of difficult situations and few who seem to care. With the Lord’s grace learning to love others as He does.

    • Barb, I’m truly believing with you that God will lead you into a community of imperfect people who will struggle along with you and lead you to a new place of remembering how very loved you are. Your willingness to reach out here shows me you have so much to offer!

  15. Church is so much like marriage. It’s the persevering past the honeymoon stage when all our common humanness begins to show up. Staying in community, even when we don’t feel like it, even when we prefer a new model with less wrinkles and weird quirks, that is the where sanctification begins its good work. Thanks for the beautiful picture you’ve given us today. You always strike a lovely chord!

  16. Shannan,

    This resonated with me: ‘This is church: you and me. Bearing burdens, celebrating victories, trading recipes. Our little church has been through much in the twelve years we’ve been members. Last Sunday our church had a praise and worship service. We named lots of praises and some miracles we’ve witnessed in the past year. I personally have seen 3-5 miracles . A good reason I love my church is that when “life happens” I can call friends and they will pray for me. Everyone is there for each other.

    Blessings 🙂

  17. This is so true!
    I really love this line “It’s you. And me. Bearing burdens, celebrating victories, and trading recipes when a certain lemon-berry dessert demands to be shared.” and the bicycle analogy.
    Thank you for your post!

  18. My husband and I have planted ourselves in a chapel on the military base where we’re stationed. There are padded chairs and the worship brings me back to the 90s, but we are choosing to connect with the broken, ornery, hilarious military crowd. I’m new at this kind of life, and sometimes I wonder if I’ll keep coming while he’s deployed. I’m praying God will make loud-and-clear connections for me over our weekly donut hour after service. I see a lot of beauty and a lot of ways I can help. But you’re right, church can be hard.

  19. Wow! I joined a new church in April and haven’t been back sense. Something comes up and I figure there is always next Sunday. I have been out of sorts lately and feeling lost. This post has reminded me why. I needed this. Thank you so much!

  20. Hello again, dear Shannan. Your post stunned me yet again. My family and I are involved in transitional housing for the homeless in a small village on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle. My blessings are them, the homeless. Thank you once again for putting this life into perspective. You seem to always express the feelings I have but the words I lack. Xxx susan, the elder one who just loves you and always saves you till for the last cup of morning coffee.

  21. I have witnessed “communities.” I have witnessed “ministries.” I have been on the outside looking in and hungering. He leads me surely, as I live more in his word, and sense the gentle wafting of His hand, and the balm of His Love. Thank you for yet another melody of his Grace♡

  22. I love this post. It is so appropriate for today. The analogy you use with the kids and their Dad is great. I have just subscribed to your blog and this is the first one I have read but is so wonderfil. Thank you for reminding all of us God is always there to pick up the pieces and show us we are loved.

  23. The sweet image of one wounded and another alongside with the bike will stick with me as a beautiful example of church in action.