Letters to The Family

Letters to The Family: Chris

This is Chris. Chris is a fellow youth pastor. Chris is an encourager and a man of prayer. He works hard to show his students the way to Jesus. And, I’m sure he would tell you, he has lots of fun along the way. His letter to us today reflects a conversation I’ve heard many times as I’ve navigated my way through churches of all sizes. It is also a word that has welled up in me from time to time. Chris approaches this with such grace. I pray we take his words to heart and perhaps adjust our course a bit. Chris

To the Church That I Love So Much,

You may not know who I am. I’m Chris, I’m 25, and I’m Youth Pastor in Fredonia, KY.  I’m single, and I gave my life to Christ when I was 17 years old.  I have been in ministry for three years, and God has blessed me in that.  You have been so supportive of me and my ministry, and everything that I do and I absolutely love that about you.  You are a true servant of Christ, who will do anything for anyone.  You love God, and you love people, and I am so thankful to be a part of this wonderful Bride of Christ.  In the past eight years I have been a part of you, you have taught me how to love, you have taught me how to be loved.  If it’s not like the love that Jesus Christ has shown us, then it’s not a love worth having.  We’ve had our ups and downs, there have been times where I wanted to walk away, not from my faith but from you, The Church, but just like Jesus did you’ve always welcomed me with opens arms.

However, we are not always doing what God has called us to do.  As a single, 25 year old man, not as a minister, but as a man, as a part of your body, it seems like you’ve forgotten about the fact that it’s not all about married couples.  As a single man, sometimes I feel as though you look over my wants and needs and just focus on the work that I’m doing.  Discipleship has not been one of your main focuses, and neither has the health of your leaders.  I come to you out of love for you, because I want to ensure the longevity of your Body, because of your love for Christ.  However, you must always confirm the spiritual and emotional health of your Body.  The health of your Body is the most important thing for you so that you can thrive for an even longer period of time.  You are the Bride of Christ, and we must keep ourselves healthy so that when Christ returns we are the perfect bride, waiting for our Groom.  

Please, Church, hear me out, I love you, with all my heart, the only reason I am sending this to you is because I love you.  You have been such a blessing to me, and I want you to be even stronger, healthier than ever before, the only way to do that is to make sure that you are healthy, strong, that your Body gets the nutrients that it needs in order to survive.  We must make sure that one another are strong, healthy and ready to go every time we meet.  You are the backbone of the Kingdom of God, and my concern for you is that you haven’t paid enough attention to the health of your Body, and I want to encourage you to do so, in all times, in all ways, so that God may be completely glorified in all that you do.

With Love


Letters to The Family: Michele

Meet Michele. I have gotten to know Michele through our For The Love crew. She is brave and vulnerable. she has shared some of her story in this challenging letter.  Be encouraged by her honesty, and let her words sink in.

In her own words: Michele resides iMichelen Houston, Texas, has been married for 15 years and has one son, Landon who is six years old.  Her story includes salvation at an early age, and some “nomadic years” in which Jesus rescued her from a pit and has been transforming her ever since! By day, she is a middle school Bible teacher at a private school and loves sharing her passion for God’s Word with the next generation. Her sincere desire is for her students to become fully devoted disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. By night, when she is not being a wife and boy mama, she loves her second passion, writing and sharing stories of God’s incomparable grace and love. She loves reading/studying God’s Word,  traveling with her family, photography, decorating and long talks with friends that usually includes some great Tex Mex or a good cup of coffee.  Ever the storyteller, no matter where she goes she loves communicating God’s Word with passion and enthusiasm so that those who hear it would be inspired to develop a saving knowledge and life long relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dear Beloved Church,

         Oh how I love you! I have sat in your midst, in buildings, marveling at the beauty of the body and how it works together and filled with deep humility knowing I found where I belonged. You are my home. The most cherished sacred moments are when we are united in worship, singing to the One True God, and that sense of connectedness washes over me and I know. This is it, this is what I was made for.  To be with you, to serve alongside you, as community, knitted by one common goal- to love our God. Call me sentimental, but it is the “everything” to me about being a believer. You became my family.

         Like all families, we have a story and that story has a beginning. Ms. Shirley, was a bona fide “church lady” properly dressed, singing to the hilt, and her hairstyled as she walked straight out of the beauty salon. I don’t know what really prompted her to take me to church, only that she did and became one of the most influential people in my life. Without her, I wouldn’t have met the God that would protect me and redeem my life in ways I could scarcely imagine.  Throughout that season of church attendance,  I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior, not once but several times, walking down the aisle, each time with a renewed sense of hope and desperate for change.  I even knocked on the door of the youth minister, hoping answers resided on the other side. The home I returned to each week was filled with chaos and many secrets. I was lost there and didn’t know what to do about it. The pain in my heart wanted an answer and wanted a Savior to do some saving. So when things didn’t change, I slowly began to believe lies about myself, lies about my God and I quit knocking on doors.

         The following season was lived away from God, in self sufficiency and from a broken identity. Choices were made, consequences were reaped and my life became a cautionary tale. If not, for the body of Christ, that continued to come in and out of my life, speaking words in due season, I may have been lost again and for good.  But the truth that resided deep within wasn’t settling for it its usual fare and I began to climb out of my own self imposed pit. Those steps led to more and more steps, eventually leading me back to the steps of the church building and its people. A bible study I began attending, led to me to my mentor, Beth. She has become a living example of grace by loving me and even more.  She has lived out the truths she taught,  all the while standing beside me as I feebly learned to walk them out for myself.  She has been in it for the “long haul” and is a modern day disciple maker-the kind Jesus talked about when he said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of every nation.”  While working with her, I became more involved in church and grew as a believer.

        A sanctified life leads to reflection and finally pushed me to reach out to those around me. Heartache, was met with the solitary phone call, meetings with no follow ups and the unending cliche “You’re in my prayers!” Hear me, prayer is a vital part of a believer’s life but when you are going through difficult times, nothing can replace another sister actually walking through that time with you.  I am not writing to bemoan the disappointment that we can all feel during encounters with fellow sojourners. I am writing because of experience and a world I see slipping away from the community I love so much. I think the time is at hand, to reexamine where our heart is and is not.

          Without the “Titus” women who sacrificed and refused to leave me behind, I would not know God and His Word. I firmly believe in the body of Christ and the risen Lord within it.  All that being said, the “work” we are doing, while good, may be overlooking the key aspect of developing relationships that require sacrifice and at times a second glance at our priority systems. When Jesus spoke “go make disciples of all nations” I can’t help but think he had an idea of what consisted of the whole “making” part.  Making involves present tense and in its defined term implies; putting various parts together to make whole, possibly with the aim in mind of equipping the disciple to help others do the same? So, while we focus on noteworthy pursuits and even travel to other places in the world, I wonder if we are missing the scenery in our backyard? Maybe the “disciple of a every nation” is sitting right next to us? A neighbor? Or maybe a battle-weary brother/sister that just needs our time?   Jesus spent 3 years with the disciples, patiently I might add, even in the midst of some silly squabbling about seats in heaven!  I can almost see a heavenly eye roll! Still, he walked, served, taught and loved each and every day. They remained true to missions, reaching the people, while the disciples were being discipled themselves. Gaps were filled in, lies were addressed, doors were opened, questions were answered and lives were changed.

Beloved, let us not miss the greatest commission, of laying our lives down for a friend.

        Maybe it’s laying down Facebook, surfing the net or all the “good deeds.”” Perhaps, its about getting down in the grubby pit of life, when it really matters and helping everyone from a new believer to even the most seasoned pilgrim. We want them to know the Savior that can do the saving and we want them to know their story matters, they belong and they are home.

-Michele Mayhan  (Storyteller, Lover of Words, Encourager of Souls, Jesus Chick and Boy Mama)

Letters to The Family: Claire

Meet Claire. Claire is one of my internet friends. I have loads of them these days thanks to Jen Hatmaker and The “For The Love” Launch Team. Claire is delightful. She has a tender heart and loves people. She is gracious and supportive. I would guess that her “in real life” friends find her to be a great cheerleader. I am taking a road trip with Claire in a month and I cannot wait to become friends outside of social media. 
ClaireIn her own words: Claire is a wife and mother from Houston, TX. She and her husband currently have two children and are adopting another from India. She is a hobby collector, running her small baking business, helping with a non-profit, playing the mandolin, learning random languages, and any other hobby that seems fascinating. She loves going to school, doing anything outside, reading political articles, reading in general, and talking theology. She is super sarcastic and obsessed with way too many tv shows. Follow her brave adventure over on IG @mummertsadopt. 

Dear Church,

It’s time to take care. I know you mean well and you are working hard, but it is time to take care. So first, it’s time to care of your people. I don’t mean the overall congregation or larger capital C Church body, I mean your people. The day in day out people who are giving their entire life to keep the church going (both paid and unpaid). Let’s stop abusing the ones who are giving up everything on your behalf. Can we be real that sometimes working at church is like finding out how the sausage is made? When you work for a church you really meet that contrast between the brokenness of sinful, fallen people and the idea that as Christians we should be set apart and different. The problem is that sometimes these meet each other in a painful way. Rather than being open and honest about the imperfections, there is this superiority and hypocrisy that can happen. Sometimes there are people, the people being served, who decide that they know the best or that God has called them to speak out against those who are serving. There are just so many opportunities for these servants to be raked across the coals. They will not be perfect, they will mess up, they will burn out, so take care. Check in, get to the heart, give back, take care of your people. Love deeply, speak graciously, take care. Don’t let these people pour and pour and pour, without refilling. Even your volunteers – speak kindly, give back, take care.

Second, take care of your image. This sounds crazy shallow, but at the same time your image is the image of Christ. Stop throwing out your words without thinking through the implications, start loving unconditionally. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Let go of grudges. Love those who fly in the face of everything you believe in. In fact, go crazy, let them in. Let them feel welcomed into the church. You don’t have to tell them they are correct in their sin, you can stand on that issue and still love them deeply. Remember that the name of Christ is branded, whether implicitly or explicitly, on everything you do. So, live like He lived, and care like He cared.

Dear, church. Take care.

In Christ,