Your service and presence matter—to others and to God.

I bet there is a place in your town—a building or venue that speaks to your soul in a way that’s unique to you. Maybe it’s a theater or a library or a church. Go there, give yourself to it, and see what God does for you in that place.Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

Summitview. Our church.

There isn’t anything about the architecture of the building that stirs me. I actually feel freaked out a bit when I’m there and no one else is around. Cavernous. Empty. But when I think about the moments I’ve spent in this place, I have these amazing mental snapshots of life lived to the full.

My memories in the Auditorium make me smile. Travis dancing around on stage while the strains of “Oh Happy Day” or “I Saw the Light” envelop the room. The huge grin on my daughter’s face after her dad baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Journey of Worship each Easter and how that practice has fed my soul and moved me to tears. The time Mitch Majeski and Trevon Stoltzfus dressed up as angels for the Christmas program. Countless VBS and BKC programs where the volume level of the kids left me with a headache but a rejoicing heart. Singing in the choir, looking out over the audience full of joy-filled people singing right back to us. A friend who, during a Women's Gala years ago, so bravely shared the story of her broken life and the healing God has wrought in it.

There’s been so much worship and teaching and life renewal in this room. Light bulb moments and conviction and rejoicing. And God’s heart is for us in it all.

I have many fond memories of time spent in the Fellowship Room, as well. Attending Bible studies when my kids were small and the encouragement those brought to my weary mother’s heart. Birthday parties, sending-people-off-to-other-parts-of-the-world parties, graduation parties—you name it, there’s probably been a party for it in this room. Women’s Coffeehouse nights—laughter, tears, vulnerability, crazy icebreakers (anyone remember the “Would you rather be in a house on fire or a room full of snakes” scenario?).

There’s been a lot of emotion in this room. A lot of the ups and downs and hellos and goodbyes of life shared. And God celebrates and shares with us in it all.

And then there are the crazy moments in the Children’s Ministry classrooms. Serving in the nursery and sharing stories with other first-time parents, wondering just what we’ve gotten ourselves into with these little people. Helping with preschool classes and learning that no matter the question you ask, you’ll always get the answer, “Jesus.” Working in the kindergarten class and realizing that if you ask an open-ended question (“When are you afraid?”, “What is your favorite animal?”, “What is your favorite food?”) it could be a good 10 minutes before you get them all quiet again. Watching the girls in the elementary classes sit on one side of the room and the boys on the other (voluntarily) and wondering at what age that dynamic begins to change.

These classrooms are the place where we watch our kids grow up, where we rejoice in the friends God has brought alongside them to share this faith journey. God rejoices as we do life and raise our children together.

I could go on and on. Life-giving conversations and times of prayer in The Gathering Place. The husbands in the young married small group vacuuming the halls with babies strapped in front packs, while the wives were “cleaning toilets for Jesus.” (Thanks to Trisha Swift for that often-heard phrase!) Trying to find my kids in the craziness that is the Gym after the service. Packing up Faith Family Hospitality cots and pillows and rejoicing in a church that feeds and cares for those who have no place of their own to rest their heads.

There is such life in this place. Because it comes, not from the building, but from the people that do life here.

When I think of you, I echo the words of Paul: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brothers, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 7). The life lived in this building, the hours of service, the words shared, the vision caught and lived out—all of it has truly refreshed the hearts of all who have entered these doors.

Thank you, church, for living life well, living life deeply, living life meaningfully in this place.

I’d love to have you reply in the comments with one snapshot of your own life-giving moment or memory in this place. We encourage one another when we share the moments that made us realize this place is truly a home for our hearts, a place where we are welcome as we are, a place where we can freely speak our doubts and fears as well as our hopes and joys. It is in sharing these moments, in serving each other in ways big and small, that we build up the body of Christ and bring joy to the Father who watches our life together unfold day by day, year by year.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (I Thessalonians 3:11).