everyone around me was raising their hands and singing along to the words on the screen except me.

I had never experienced anything like it before. What was I supposed to do my first time attending church? Should I sing these words too? Should I raise my hands like the people around me? None of it made sense to me. I didn’t grow up going to church, and anytime I did go, it wasn’t at a place like this.  A place where it was evident that people wanted to be there and seemed genuinely excited about what was happening during this church service.


I was only sixteen when I had this experience. My public high school teacher, knowing I had no relationship with God whatsoever, invited me to attend church with her family and to her surprise, I said yes. I didn’t give my life to Jesus that Sunday morning, truthfully I felt really uncomfortable at many different moments during my experience at her church.

but what she did after I attended is my story of how The Church changed my life.

My teacher, Carrie, made sure I came to her house first so I wouldn’t feel uncertain about finding her in a building I had never been to. Before she took me back to her home, she invited me to lunch with her family. I was honored and slightly confused. Why on earth did my teacher want me to go to lunch with her family? But, to my surprise, I enjoyed it a lot. It was refreshing, they laughed together, and it was evident that they enjoyed being with one another.

We didn’t talk about church at lunch; we just spent time together getting to know one another. They made me feel accepted for who I was, as if I had become a part of their “clan” already. Before I left to go home, Carrie asked me a couple of questions about my experience with them at church that morning.

hours passed, tons of questions were asked and just like that the rollercoaster journey of a messy sixteen-year-old eventually committing to live sold-out for Jesus had begun.

Following that Sunday, Carrie and her husband opened their home to me on Monday nights to host a Bible Study for my friends and me. They fed us, played games with us & led a simple Bible study that focused on how to have a relationship with Jesus. They spent the next two years intentionally opening their home to us wild teenagers who had never been to church.

[Tweet “The Church isn’t a building, it’s a people group, and this was how The Church changed my life.”]

Carrie and Dave understood that The Church isn’t a building, it’s a people group, and this was how The Church changed my life.

Carrie owned her calling as a teacher and was present in the lives of those God placed in her classroom.

Carrie was The Church during passing periods when I just needed some advice on how to handle a situation with a friend.

Carrie was The Church when I called during dinner because the Bible talked about a Pharisee and I had no idea what that was.

Carrie was The Church every Monday night when she was a mom, and wife, yet she gave her evenings to spend time with teenagers.

Carrie was The Church when she offered grace to me when my boyfriend broke my heart, and I continued to give it back to him instead of focusing on growing in my faith.

The Church changed my life because they never gave up on me. They didn’t give me a particular time frame that I had to change within for it to be worth their time. They loved me through my mess, and finally, when my 18-year-old self was ready to give my entire life to Jesus, I knew exactly who I needed to talk to about it. It changed the course of my life.

[Tweet “The Church changed my life because they never gave up on me.”]

I went into ministry school, married a godly man (of course I asked Carrie to be my matron of honor), my husband and I youth pastor an incredible group of teenagers, and I get to raise my children to become The Church. When we decide to own the areas God has placed us, and we accept the call we have as The Church, incredible things can happen.

This story was a part of a series called #ChurchSwoon to celebrate the launch of Church VIP and all that God is up to at churches everywhere. Share what God is doing at your church in the comments below.