I wasn't introduced to regular church until I was about 15, and I went with my friends and their families. After coming to college I bounced around a little bit, trying to figure out where I felt most at home. I questioned a bit of everything, and if I heard something I disliked, I moved on. But now, well this church is one of the main reasons we decided to try to stay in Berea, rather than try to move away. I'm so thankful for it, and I've started to really pinpoint why.
1.) We celebrate our kids!
I've been in so many social situations where you feel totally unwelcome as soon as your little one starts crying/fussing/throwing a tantrum. But at River, all the noise and chaos that kids bring is not only tolerated, it is a vital part of the church.
2.) Men and women are equal.
3.) They preach love, not judgement.
Anyone that knows me at all, knows that I feel strongly for equal rights. I tend to lean to the liberal side of issues, and I can't stand to listen to condemnation. The people at River aren't perfect, and some little phrases still bother me from time to time, but I know that none of our members would jump up to declare that we are called to hate all Muslims/Atheists/gays. I won't sit through a sermon that's point is to tear down another group of people. And when we fall short, which we all do, it's met with love and grace, not condemnation.
It isn't perfect, and I've written before that sometimes I don't agree with everything said, but the thing is, I don't have to agree with everything to still be a part of the church. I don't have to lose all my own opinions to be thankful for what I've found. So I've just been feeling grateful lately, for the friendships, for the growth it has encouraged in me, and for the worship and praise I can look forward to each week.