After much searching for a place where I could worship God, and grow in character, relationally, and use my gifts to serve others, I have finally found a place to call home (or should I say, God has lead me to a place)! Though the demands of school, work and ministry interfere with my ability to attend every Sunday, I can honestly say that I love my church. Here are a few reasons why
1. Commitment to Diversity/Being Multicultural – Worship style, staff, and congregation mirror the neighborhood where we are located. It’s refreshing to see diversity not only in the people who lead up front, but also to hear it in the selection of music genres and preaching. Sure, we have some growing to do in in this area, but what’s already a reality is worth celebrating. There is an authentic commitment to celebrating a variety of cultural groups without pressuring individual groups to culturally conform to any other culture. In essence, there is encouragement to be ones authentic cultural self. What helps us is that River City Community Church is a learning congregation that is willing to have complex and candid conversations regarding social issues, race, and ways to build authentic relationships both within amongst attendees and within the community of Humboldt Park.
2. Casual Environment – Casual sounds too casual and for some it may even appear slightly irreverent. But casual takes some of the edge and intimidation off for those who walk through the doors (whether Christian or not Christian). Though I grew up in a local congregation that required wearing “Sunday Best” (and yes I know the history behind it for African Americans), it is so liberating for me to be able to come as I am, not feel pressured to look like a superstar, be able to stand or sit as I worship, and encounter people who are not stiff and unapproachable. Not to mention, it is a place of prayer where God is at the center of what we do. I love my church!
3. Children are Welcomed- As a former Children’s Ministry Pastor, one of the first things I noticed about my church is the commitment to children and families who attend. I also noticed that this commitment extends far beyond just those who attend and reaches to those in the neighborhood as we partner with a local school.
4. Pastor and Leaders are Authentic – In the past I have been in intensely hierarchical church environments (admittedly, I find that structure somewhat unhelpful). The leadership at River City is very difficult to describe. They are personable, approachable, humble, behave as though they understand that with God there is no hierarchy in the family of God, and yet their style of leadership makes you want to follow them, listen to them and learn from them and this can happen without leaving their presence feeling “less than.” Go figure.
5. Care for the Local Community where we are located – One of the aims of RCCC is to transform the city of Chicago through neighborhood development. There will always be more that we can do to work towards this goal, but the investment in the local community is at the heart of who we are. Whether it gets worked out through offering ESL classes, giving away backpacks and school supplies to local families, partnering with other community leaders and working together to learn more about the community and learn how to best serve them, this church is invested and it shows.
There are many other reasons why I am glad to have found a home with this group of Christians, but the above are a good start to a sneak peak into why the love is there.