In case you weren’t here last Monday, this summer I am running a blog series entitled So You Say You’re a Church Lady: An Interview Series with Powerhouse Women. As a pastor’s wife, I care deeply about what God is doing in and through the many local churches that dot our nation and our world, and in this series you and I will get to hear from women who are changing the world through their local churches. Most are pastor’s wives, and all of them are following Jesus with passion and purpose. Today I want to introduce the amazing woman who is kicking off the second interview: Christine Hoover, who blogs at Grace Covers Me.
Christine is the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, and her work has appeared on Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, and Incourage. If you are a woman who cares about the church or who is in ministry, please stop by her blog and be encouraged. In reading what Christine writes, I always feel encouraged and challenged–encouraged to continue to follow Jesus and love his people, and challenged to live and love more like Jesus. If you can’t tell, Christine is a woman I am grateful to hear from today! Join me as she shares her heart with us.
1. Tell us a little bit about the church that you’re a part of.
My husband and I moved from Texas to Charlottesville, VA in 2008 to plant Charlottesville Community Church. The little Bible study that started in our living room has now blossomed into a self-sustaining, fully-functioning church, albeit a simple one that meets in an elementary school gym. Charlottesville is a college town, so we serve a fairly young, transient, intellectual, and ambitious population, and our church is full of college students, young professionals, and young families.
2. What does it look like, in your life, to be an active part of your church?
Considering we planted our church and that we don’t have our own building, I’ve been beyond active in our church. Our home has essentially been the main hub of our ministry, especially in the early years before we had additional staff and elders who could help carry the load. Thankfully, almost six years in, I’ve been able to move from being more of a generalist to being more of a specialist. I now am able to solely focus on what I am gifted for and passionate about: hospitality, discipleship (both participating and training others), and teaching.
3. How are your unique gifts and abilities strengthened by being part of a local church?
The local church has been the greenhouse in which I’ve discovered my gifts and learned to use them. I’ve learned how to lead Bible studies, how to serve under authority, how to counsel other women, and how to explain the grace of God to others. I am in fact still learning myself and learning how to best use my abilities and my role as the pastor’s wife to honor the Lord–all within the church. It has been a safe place to practice using my gifts, and I really see no better avenue for the type of growth I’ve experienced in these areas.
4. How has being part of a church challenged and changed you?
Like most people, I’ve had idealistic thoughts about what the church should be, and those thoughts have typically said more about me and what I want out of church than what God actually intended the church to be. What I’ve discovered is that true community is hard work, difficult at times, and not at all about our comfort or our desires. True church community requires that we handle conflict appropriately, receive constructive feedback, allow others to help us and speak into our lives, be willing to take the risk of authentic relationships, and work really hard at it at all times.
Six years in to our church plant, we’ve passed the honeymoon phase with people. We now know them well enough that we see their faults and they see ours. This year in particular has been difficult for me with relationships, and I’ve learned so much about myself and my need to grow in handling hurts appropriately. Sometimes I want to run away and start over, but God has challenged me that this is what church is about and that I am to stick in there. The nitty-gritty of church life is nothing like my past idealistic thoughts. And that’s a very good thing.
5. Why do you value church? What do you love about church?
I love church for many reasons: an always increasing understanding of the Bible, corporate worship, friendships, and an opportunity as a pastor’s wife to impact others. I value it primarily because God created it as something both for our benefit and for the benefit of nonbelievers as they watch a functioning Body. There is a profound mystery to all of this: why this way? It’s something I’ve thought about, because it’s made up of broken people and it will never perfectly represent our Head, Christ Jesus. But I find that if not for the church, I would be an isolated mess and my faith would be quite self-serving. People in my church make me more like Christ; I need them and they need me. And we all must work together to function as the Body and to love one another well in front of a watching world. The church truly is the manifest wisdom of God.
Make sure to stop by next Monday when we will hear from our next powerhouse church lady!