Features / God Stories

First Year Thoughts

By Kristen Pope
Intern to Minister to Families with Children

Kristen PopeMy family was here at SRBC this past Sunday, and they got to see me in the pulpit wearing a robe and stole for the first time. It was evident to them that I love this place and the people in it. When I was asked by my family what I love so much about Smoke Rise, I found it similar to being asked what my favorite book or movie is, but I obliged. What comes to mind is that SRBC is a place that meets people where they are. There have been churches I have walked into where it is apparent that you will need to be a certain kind of Christian to be accepted, but the more interactions I’ve had and observed, I find that people here are genuinely interested in learning about your journey and joining you on it. Now, I’m not saying that by meeting people where they are, Smoke Rise doesn’t challenge people to grow and change and learn. We are a community that is always open to growth; but it is not an abrasive, intrusive, forced growth.  On more than one occasion after listening to one of Chris’ sermons, I’ve found that I’ve learned something inspiring and new about the kingdom of God along the way without even realizing it. I believe that’s part of what makes Chris so perfect for this church and that pulpit. There are many  different beliefs, political, theological and otherwise, that gather in our sanctuary every Sunday morning, but I think this staff and congregation see that rightly as a strength. When we demand that people only meet us where we are, we imply that we are already in the ‘right’ place and we are just waiting for everyone else to get there.  Here at SRBC, I think part of what is so life-giving is that we all just admit that we are in a ‘place’, and parts of it are right and parts of it are inevitably wrong, and that we are rarely even in the same ‘place’ long enough for anyone to meet us there. We should treasure that this church is a space where we are not commanded to walk to certain coordinates on a spiritual map, but that we are given the space to travel the map and bump into one another, sometimes bumping hard, but always with grace.

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