"The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved"

Mother Teresa sums it up pretty well. Loneliness and feeling unloved is horrible, it can make feel desperate and worthless. For many months I have left each and every church event feeling lonely and unloved. Two weeks ago, I finally decided to make a change.

2 and a half years ago I moved to Brighton. I tried one church, got scared of making a decision and then went to CCK. My reasons were...the awesome worship and the free bus from campus. Not necessarily bad things to base the decision on, but also not everything I needed to consider.

2 and a half years later, after much encouragement from friends I've found it in me to try and find a new church, one were I feel loved, accepted and like I belong. Don't get me wrong, I know many many people who love CCK and feel a part of their mission but it's not where I am right now. The preaching is great - Joel Virgo is fantastic. The worship, the atmosphere, it's all fine. I just never really settled though, I feel incredibly lonely and rejected whenever I'm there and had reached a point where I was close to giving up on "the church" altogether.

It's pretty scary making the decision to church search after being in the same place for two+ years. What if I don't find another church? What if I find another church but even fewer people speak to me? What if no-one speaks to me? What if I really am just a horrible person and that's why I'm lonely? What if nowhere has the "right" combo of worship/preaching/ministry to help me to grow in faith?

It's pretty scary trying out a new church. Walking into a room of hundreds of strangers is daunting, but St. Peter's have made me feel incredibly welcome. I feel more accepted and loved in the past two weeks than I have in 2 and a half years. It doesn't mean I'm not still scared, that I don't still wish I could be a few months down the line and know I'm in the right place, but it's all part of the journey.

And then I realise, that although church is great, although church is important, although worship is great, although hearing preachers is great, none of it really matters if I'm not pressing into God and growing in faith. And that is what it's coming down to...

Where do I think I can grow?

I came to University on fire for God. I was excited to be in a new city, excited to be surrounded by 100's of Christians my age. I quickly realised that it's not easy to combine the typical "student" lifestyle with being a "good" Christian. I arrived at Uni. with a passion for youth and kids work, a love for singing and worship and it all began to fade away to the struggles of daily life. I felt restricted and like there was little opportunity to serve in the ways I feel gifted. All in all, though my faith stayed strong, my enthusiasm dwindled rapidly. I've been learning a lot from the preaches but I don't feel that I am necessarily growing.

I feel I could grow at St. Peter's. I feel like I could get involved with the kids work and actually make a difference. I feel like the balance between worship, preaching and ministry supports me in the way I need right now. Within a week of going to my first service I was accepted into a "team" and welcomed like an old friend. It really feels like a family. I grew up in a church where I had a lot of support from friends and leaders alike and I miss it dearly. I catch glimpses of what I loved about my home church in St. P's and it makes me feel fuzzy inside.

I'm not going to rush into any decisions, I'm still just testing the waters, but feeling loved and welcomed from the off is a pretty good start.

Also, this song has pretty much been my anthem for the past week...the bridge is fantastic.

"I rise as You are risen
Declare Your rule and reign
My life confess Your Lordship
And glorify Your Name
Your Word it stands eternal
Your Kingdom knows no end
Your praise goes on forever
An on and on again

No power can stand against You
No curse assault Your throne
No one can steal Your glory
For it is Yours alone
I stand to sing Your praises
I stand to testify
For I was dead in my sin

But now I rise, I will rise
As Christ was raised to life
Now in Him, now in Him
I live"



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