Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My Love for the Local Church

If you grew up going to church, take a moment to reflect back on what going to church was like when you were a kid. I grew up in the Goodyear Heights area of Akron, OH. Back then, the city of Akron was known as the Rubber Capitol of the World before the major tire companies moved their operations south. But as a kid, I can remember the distinct smell in the air of the rubber being made in the factories in the downtown area as I played outside. That was the down side to growing up in Akron. The upside was the fact that almost on a daily basis the Goodyear Blimp would fly overhead. That was way cool.

We lived on Honodle Avenue which was a dead end street. We were two houses from the end of the street which backed up to Seiberling Elementary school. Our house was pink…honest…but that is the subject for another blog entry. If you walked through the school yard and then through the parking lot of the school you came to a little church called Goodyear Heights Community Church which was part of the IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America). My Grandpa pastored the church when I was really little but I barely remember those years at all. But even after my Grandparents moved to take on a new church in Sutter, Illinois, our family remained an integral part of this church.

The church was small (no more than 100 people) but our life as a family revolved around it. My parents were of the mindset that if the church doors were open, the Distler family was there…four pews back on the left hand side. Not only that, but my parents were in charge of opening and locking up the church so we were not just there, we were the very first ones to arrive and the absolute last ones to leave. On top of that, my dad was on every committee the church had. In fact, he chaired most of them. My mother was the financial secretary as well. And if all of this did not cause us to spend enough time at church, my parents were also the church janitors so even when the doors weren’t open, we were there. I am not exaggerating when I say that I spent more nights at church as a kid than I ever spent at home. But that’s okay…remember, I lived in a pink house.

Most kids would have grown tired of being at church. I didn’t. I loved it. The greatest memories of my childhood center around the church…Vacation Bible Schools; New Year’s Eve Watch Night Services with the scary “Thief in the Night” type of movies; Christmas programs; and Missions Conferences complete with dried snake skins and bizarre slide shows. It didn’t get much better than that. And as a result, I grew up with a love for the local church. In fact, even as a teenager, I would almost daily take my dad’s key to the church after school and spend time there by myself doing my homework, practicing my trumpet or just hanging out.

If there is one gift my parents gave me as a child that I am most thankful for it is that they instilled within me a love for the local church. And I still love it today. In fact, that love affair continues to grow each and every day. I love the local church. It is what I have given my life to do…serving God through the local church. I'm convinced...the local church is the hope of the world and there is nothing like the local church when the local church is working right.

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