Finding Family in the Church

OneWord Journal welcomes this post by Alyssa Carlburg, who did find work in Wheaton. Alyssa is the development/communications assistant at Mission Eurasia.

Growing up in College Church, I never really thought of the church as a family. But that changed when I graduated from Hope College in May 2012 and returned to Wheaton to look for work. Now I found myself avidly seeking a community of believers. I heard about Threefold through one of my mom's co-workers, and I went to the first Group Connect event in September.

After only a few short months in a Threefold Bible study, I had formed some of the most encouraging and spiritually challenging friendships that I had ever experienced. Not only was I engaging with Scripture in a deep, meaningful way, I was also learning to confess my sins and pursue God as my ultimate source of satisfaction and joy. More importantly, I was learning how to support others in their personal walks with the Lord.

During the past two-and-half years, my friendships in Threefold have grown, and through them, God is teaching me to find love and support in the church body. Truthfully, it has been challenging for me to find contentment in my singleness, particularly because the church doesn't seem to know quite what to do with us young singles. God is using my community to encourage me to seek my contentment in him, not in my desire to have a marriage, which is how it should be for everyone, regardless of their marital status.

As I search for joy in singleness, I have found that God has removed some of the bitterness that I felt toward the church regarding its view of those who are single, and have found that it is possible for married and single people to form friendships and learn from one another.

As I reflect on this, I can see that God has provided a family for me at College Church. One that is not dependent on blood relations, but one that is rooted in the redeeming blood of Christ.

In this family, I can use my gifts to serve, and God has provided me with several opportunities through which to do this, particularly in the STARS disability ministry. The past three years, I have had the privilege of serving as a teacher's aid in the teen STARS Supernova classroom on Sunday mornings and helping out with Friday Night Fun. I became involved in STARS to minister to others, but quickly realized that I was learning just as much, if not more, from the STARS as I was sharing with them.

My growing involvement in the church led me to become a member in fall 2014, and in this new role, I trust God to continue to grow my relationships with my fellow church family members.

While I know that my spiritual journey will continue for the rest of my life, I also know that God has provided significant spiritual growth through my experiences in Threefold and STARS. He has also challenged my prejudices by immersing me in a family that is blind to the lines of race, socio-economic status, IQ and gender . . . lines that were erased at the Cross.