Over the past few weeks you heard from our Core Team about why they joined Renaissance and why they love their church. For our final post in this series, you will hear how God has changed them since they’ve started gathering with us. I pray these small stories of change are as much of an encouragement to you as they were to me.
How has God changed you since you’ve joined Renaissance Church?
My husband and I have been under a lot of stress since moving to Pittsburgh with 4 kids (newborn – 5 years old), all on the heels of my dad’s death. I’ve been lovingly reminded – through the Galatians series discussion at our Missional Communities – that I was allowing my difficult circumstances to enslave my heart to my stressed-out behaviors. God has showed me that I am free to go through this difficult time with love and grace from Jesus. There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say, and nothing that can happen to me that can separate me from God’s grace and love. These truths are not only for me, but for my family as well – I’ve been able to demonstrate that same love and grace to my husband and children.
It’s been a wonderful array of joy, love, tears, and sharpening. I’ve never been so exposed and so loved at the same time. My relationship with the Lord has grown because this church continuously points me back to Jesus. I am consistently learning how to better serve my wife and family in Christ.
Since joining Renaissance, I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about His heart for His people, especially in relation to Christ’s statement in Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. I definitely have a tendency to want people to be “fixed”; I want to make their sins (that cause them and others pain) go away. But Christ’s desire is for the heart to be changed. The only true freedom from sin comes from His kind of change – from the inside out. I’ve known this in my head, and in my heart, but the Spirit has given me a greater understanding. Instead of wanting people to conform and change into my image on my terms, I now pray for these people to grow and be conformed into God’s image according to His will.
God keeps reminding my wife and I of the importance of community, and how vital it is to share our messy lives with our church family. Since we have others to share our struggles and joys with, we are continually reminded that we must decrease and Christ must increase. This is a constant and much needed daily reminder.
I have learned the importance of being flexible. Established churches have existing structures already in place. Our church is a growing church. God has been reminding me that our church is going to look differently than other churches because we are in another part of the country. The needs of Pittsburgh are different than the needs of other cities. Our worship, building, kids ministry, evangelism, missional communities, etc. are going to look different, and that is ok.
When I joined the core team I had been in Pittsburgh for 6 months, with no community or fellowship. It’s safe to say I was in a dark dark place. I was pouring my life into myself and running hard after worldly dreams. I was barely following Jesus. Since I’ve joined Renaissance, I have been overwhelmed to find that all the while, as I was chasing worldly deities, Jesus was wildly and passionately pursuing my heart. This truth has allowed me to fall deeply in love with The Savior who keeps saving. His love compels me to be obedient. My heart now longs for holiness not rebellion. More so, I desire for this story, the story of a great loving God who saves selfish rebels, to be proclaimed over every borough in the ‘burgh.