This is a guest post by Jodi Beere. I often find myself looking back to our first time attending River City Church.
I love thinking about what drew us into a new church where we knew next to no one and why we kept coming back. Our previous church experience was at a couple of different churches here in town over the course of a few years. Both were beautiful and fixtures in their respective neighborhoods. We knew several families at each church because of Hopey's school and both Greg's and my work. Yet, none of us felt particularly connected to the people or any other part of the church for that matter.
So why RCC? Simply stated, we got invited.
One Saturday morning, a kind woman we knew from Hopey's school enthusiastically told us about her church. She told us that they met at the City Rescue Mission and you had to drive through a security gate. She pressed on that we just had to come and check out the Starbucks coffee and delicious homemade muffins.
Coffee and muffins — how could we say no?!
Our first Sunday, we felt intimidated by the big black iron gate surrounding the property, but the guard beamed at us as we drove in. We inched our way towards the chapel, unsure of where exactly we were to go. Thankfully, a beautiful woman with a brilliant smile and a suntanned little girl in her arms called out "hello" to us. She introduced herself, asked us how we heard about the church, and welcomed us inside. Immediately we met people whose warm smiles and gracious questions made us feel like we were among friends.
Henri Nouwen offers an apt description of our first experience at RCC as "the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.”
Those first encounters helped us feel safe, welcomed, and loved. We made friends who have become our family. When the RCC family opened its doors it enabled us to receive God's grace and love, experience his healing through the power of prayer, and become worshippers and lovers of him. Our hope and prayer is that you and your family have the same life-changing experience we did. Not just the first time at RCC, but each time. Oh, and although the coffee is now Bold Bean, it's still worth the trip!
Jodi is a near-sighted wanderer who is learning to trust Jesus in everything.