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When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had three things on my to-do list: (1) buying books for my first semester at Life Pacific College; (2) going to Ikea for furniture; and (3) finding a church to attend. The first two were easy. Finding a church was not.

My dad had always been my pastor, and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for. I had lots of questions: Am I allowed to have worship preferences? Does preaching style matter? Is it OK for me to wish that someone had said “hi” to me today?

The Lord was gracious during that season and gently reminded me of what the church is really about: loving God, loving people and taking the gospel to the world. The church is a beautiful creation; it is huge, full of imperfect people with different minds and hearts who follow a perfect Jesus.

As I chose a church and began to attend it regularly, I was amazed at what I observed over time. Each week, people who had been at the church for years would join together with people who were there for the first time. They learned, worshiped and grew together.

“Together” is a powerful word; it describes the way the body of Christ incorporates its many diverse members. Paul talked about this body in Romans: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:4-6, NIV). Our diversity and our God-given gifts work together to accomplish amazing things in the kingdom.

I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was looking for a church, what I really wanted to find was a community of believers with whom I could pursue becoming more like Jesus.

Our world faces seemingly endless difficulties and struggles, and it’s easy to allow feelings of hopelessness to creep in. But, through His church, God is enlarging His territory and expanding His reach. We can help our world find grace and hope, one disciple at a time.

Together, growth, diversity, grace—may these words give us inspiration and direction as we minister to a world of people who are looking for purpose and a place to call home.

How You Can Pray

How do you welcome visitors into your church? Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes to see others, to express His great love for them, and to show you simple ways to welcome and serve them.

Praying with us? Include what you are praying for in a comment below.

is a senior at Life Pacific College in San Dimas, Calif.