My New Church Home
Oasis Church Chicago.
This place is special like unlike any other I’ve experienced. I truly can’t type fast enough to share how my heart has been touched since becoming a member of this community. But first, I’d like to share my journey of getting there in hopes that I reach someone struggling to find a church to call home.
I write this, like many of you, from a very uncertain place in life. Things are changing around us daily. However, the joy and hope that I have received in digging into my faith at Oasis far surpas my fear of the unknown and the same can happen for you, too. Let’s jump right in-
I’ve been familiar with Oasis for quite a while through my friend, Bekah. When we first met, she tried to get me to church liiiiiterally every time I saw her! It was all she talked about, “Oasis, Oasis, Oasis!”
Always honest here, y’all…
Her urges were aggravating some of my insecurities around my faith journey, so, I consistently blew her off.
At the time, I wasn’t going to church consistently but my heart had *lightly* begun to desire a church home. I’d see so many people going to church and brunch every Sunday on Instagram. Pictures with smiles galore, tons of cute babies, and people with their hands in the air, praising Jesus together. Sounds pretty cool, huh? I thought so, too.
So, I gave it a try. On my own, I decided to try the city’s most popular “millennial” churches. At the time, Oasis wasn’t one of them. There I was again, minimizing risk (read: disappointment) and putting my faith in numbers.
While I enjoyed everywhere I went, I always left feeling not quite full. I yearned for a place that left me eager to come back. After three failed attempts, I decided to pause the process of finding a church home and focus on my relationship with God in other ways.
Fast forward about a year, Bekah was still (gently) persistent (& boy, am I thankful). I started to notice my friends going to church together. And, get this, they’re also going to this Oasis place! Should I give this whole church home thing another try and go with them?
“My hands are in so many things right now. It can wait.”
I started seeing Oasis pop up on my Instagram and FOMO overcame me every single week. “If you wanted to go so badly, why didn’t you just do it,” you ask? Makes sense. Let me tell you…
When you’re in a lukewarm relationship with God, the idea of church doesn’t feel great. You can feel revealed, exposed and vulnerable very intensely in a place of worship.
In continuously denying invitations to Oasis, subconscious (spirituality) was STIRRED UP. I was asking myself questions about God more frequently than ever before. I knew that my relationship with God was one I would say was most important to me, yet, I spent hardly any time fostering it.
Cue, heart check.
I immediately did a values exercise and realized that I was choosing to expend my time and energy into a few things that did not align with my values. Were they bad? No. But, were they pushing me towards my ultimate goals and desires? Were they pushing me to be a better person, daughter, friend, and sister? Also no.
“Fiiiiiiiine, I’ll try it” I reluctantly told myself. I texted my friends and told them I was coming, hoping this would reduce the chances of me backing out. It worked.
I showed up on a beautiful sunny Sunday to Chicago Hope Academy, where Oasis was hosting its first service in a new space. The parking lot was full, and I said, “Hi, good morning!” to about 15 people on my way in. So friendly! I stepped into the building and was met with a HUGE smile and literally, open arms from a woman I’d never even met before! She was so sweet- smiling ear to ear! She gave me a big hug, welcomed me to my first service, and expressed how happy the church was to have me here. How’s that for an initial hello?!
PS- I now know who that woman is, our Pastor’s wife, Rachel! How awesome is that! Literally, on the front line of the church’s welcoming committee. So cool.
I walked in into a room packed with people. Faint worship music diffused the space so gently, yet so full. I felt it. I don’t really know what “it” is exactly, but if you’ve ever been delaying getting to church because you’re not quite ready to fully expose yourself to God, you know what I’m talking about. Even though I was made to feel so welcome, I was still so nervous.
My friends and I all sat in the second row together. The second row. Really!? At the front?! Ugh. I felt so stiff. I also have always been weird about people putting their hands in the air at church. My fellow Catholic people, do you know what I mean? Based on the structure of the church I grew up in, where I was to be seen and NOT heard during service, this feels taboo! Anyways, I had to get over that quickly because less than 10 seconds later, the lights were dimmed, the worship team had begun singing, and hands were up all over the place.
“Dang, these people really love Jesus. I mean, I love him. But like, they really love him,” I thought to myself. The worship team is so great you can’t help but sway back and forth, singing to the music. My discomfort began to shed away. We sang, we prayed, we greeted one another, and then, Pastor JP did his thing. He KILLED it!
I don’t really know how to describe this guy! I think I’ve said something like, “a cool millennial dad who’s like, totally lit for Jesus!” His ability to understand and relate to his church members is so impressive. Something I truly recommend experiencing at least once, if you can. As soon as he cracked his first dad joke, I knew I’d like him. So honest, so relatable, and steadfast in his purpose of spreading the truth, word, and light of the Lord.
The service was incredible. Finally, I felt full. Since, I have made Oasis my church home! I love it there. I’ve experienced some incredible things in such a short time attending, and I’m excited to share them in the coming weeks. However, before I wrap this up, I have 2 requests!
If you have been thinking about going to Oasis, if you are seeking a new church home, if you know absolutely nothing about church, but want to. If you feel lost, undeserving or unworthy- please join us for a Sunday service.
Let me remind you, God will pull on your heartstrings in a million different ways to draw you closer to Him. How lucky are we? I shied away from Him so many times and he STILL sought me until I was grounded. You are THAT desired and loved.
I can’t promise anything because what you receive from the experience is up to you. But, I can tell you that if you are present (even virtually) with your heart in the right place, God will find you. Exactly where you are. Ready or not…
It happened to me, and only my second time there. Man, WHAT A STORY! I can’t wait to tell you about it.
Please reach out to me with any questions. I want to get you here! Given the current state of our world, we are unable to meet traditionally. But until we meet in person again, be sure to tune in weekly for Sunday Service at 10:30 am and Wednesday Night Prayer at 7 pm on Oasis’ Youtube Channel. We would love to have you. I can assure you, Hunny, you are welcome here.