I've been going to church for as long as I can remember and I've experienced a wide-variety of denominations and churches across the world.
In these churches I've listened to hundreds (probably thousands) of sermons and worship sessions, met tons of preachers and elders and church-goers, worked on media teams and in other areas, and thought (a few times) that I found my home in [insert church name here].
However, it wasn't until recently that I learned what a 'church home' really is.
When my family moved back to Florida after twelve years away, finding a church was a challenge. We tried several over the course of the first few months and none of them felt right. The worship felt off and like we couldn't get into that 'Holy Spirit zone'. The sermon didn't hit home or wasn't real enough. The people weren't warm and fuzzy. We just weren't clicking with a church.
One day Joanie B. found her way to a restaurant in the mall and met a lovely lady who told her about a church that, coincidently enough, was also in the mall. Weird, right? She came home and told me all about it and, despite my reservations, we attended our first service a few weeks later.
And that was one of the best decisions we ever made.
I remember walking through the doors of Emerald Coast Worship Centre and it immediately felt different. People were happy to be there. Smiling, hugging and shaking hands. We felt welcomed for the first time in a while. We were in a mall, which was super weird for a while, but you get used to it.
Worship was incredible. The Holy Spirit was freely flowing and I don't think I've ever been more connected to Him than in those moments.
The sermon was raw, real, and hit home, just like it has every week since then.
I can't remember the last time I WANTED to go to church. I'm a Christian, but somehow church had become a habit or a chore that I had to do on Sunday. I had to drag my butt out of bed and just get there. With ECWC, I truly wanted to be there. We started going on Sundays and Wednesdays. Then we went to our first Monday staff meeting. I guess you could say that's where things got interesting...
If you know me, then you know I tend to be a pretty closed-off, introverted person. However, Emerald Coast Worship Centre does something to me. God does something to me when I'm there. On that first staff meeting, mom and I had the worst day leading up to it. We were sad and angry and just completely rundown, but we went anyway. THANK JESUS THAT WE DID!
That night, which now seems like a lifetime ago, I met the most incredible people. I didn't know then, but they would soon become family. People I want to spend time with all of the time. People I involuntarily spill my guts to without a second thought. People I want to laugh with and cry with. People I hope I can introduce you to someday. For now, they'll just be A, J, and C. Some of the best people, maybe the best people, to ever walk into my life.
From that day on it was clear, Emerald Coast Worship Centre, the church at the mall, was my church home. My family's church home.
A place where I feel safe.
A place where I'm connected to God in ways I haven't been for a long time.
A place where my tribe was born. Where my life changed. Where everything changed.
So, if you're in the Fort Walton Beach area, come on down to ECWC! Service starts at 11 on Sundays and 7 on Wednesday nights!
Everyone's different, so I can't promise it'll be your home, but I can promise it'll be an experience you'll never forget. I know I won't, not for as long as I live.
Stay tuned for more posts about ECWC and maybe one about A, J, and C! It's only been a few months, but there are already a lot of stories to tell. They're probably reading this right now (HI GUYS!) so hopefully they let me really introduce them (they're super cool!).
Until next time...
This blog is a glimpse into my crazy life as a twenty-something female entrepreneur navigating life as the co-owner of a mother-daughter business. Things get pretty insane, but we make it all work.