Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

Whitney Sledz • Media Director • whitney@thevinecc.tv

I have grown up in church. My mom’s side of the family attends the Church of Christ; my dad’s side attends a Catholic church. My closest friends attended a Baptist church, a Methodist church and the Assembly of God. While I mostly attended the Church of Christ, I was allowed to attend services, Bible studies and events with many different people and learn how each church operates.

One Wednesday night, when I was a teenager, our class at Sunset Church of Christ in Carlsbad, NM was without a teacher, so one of the Elders stepped in to teach. I remember that he walked to the board and he drew a pie chart on the white board and asked us to start naming off the different “religions” that we knew of in Carlsbad. Students began to name them. He wrote each one in each slice of the pie chart. He wrote, “Methodist Christians, Charismatic Christians, Baptists Christians, Catholic Christians, etc.”

Once we had filled each slice of the pie, he turned to us and he said, “now watch this.” He began to erase the labels in each of the slices and we were left with the word “Christian” in each slice of the pie. He told us that we all had one thing in common. We were all after God. We all were striving to follow Jesus and make God’s name great. I specifically remember him saying, “We’ve got to stop fighting and start working together.”

WOW! What a lesson for a teenager! And, I am so thankful for that lesson and for my parents who allowed me to experience that lesson.

Ephesians 4:1-6 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Here’s what else I’m grateful for:

I am so grateful for the church I grew up in, Sunset Church of Christ in Carlsbad, NM. They taught me my core beliefs. They taught me the Bible like no other church ever has. They taught me morals and how to obey God. I learned to love others. They taught me that church is not a building but a body of believers. I’m thankful for every person who had a hand in my life in this church. These people were faithful and I believe that I could call any one of them, mentors, teachers and fellow attenders of that church, our camp and our youth rallies, and they would still to this day treat me like family.

I am grateful for St. Edwards Catholic Church in Carlsbad, NM. They taught the importance of the blood of Christ and to make right choices. My Catholic church-attending grandma taught me what fervent prayer was the importance of it.

I am grateful for First Baptist Church in Carlsbad, NM. They taught me to be bold, step out and share God’s love, to broadcast that I am a Christian and not hide it. They taught me that maybe every belief I had was not correct and that the only way to understand why that belief might be right or wrong was to read my Bible.

I am grateful for Epworth Methodist Church in Carlsbad, NM. They taught me that church can be fun and that missions are important, even the small ones of painting a church in Los Alamos after a fire. They taught me acceptance of other people because their youth group and leadership accepted a rough-mouthed, mess of a teenager like me, who was not a member of their church, to be involved with their youth group, youth band, plays, mission trips and events. Seriously, if any of you from that youth group are reading this, you guys accepted me, befriended me and didn’t treat me one way at youth and one way at school. Thank God. You represented Him well.

I am grateful for Calvary Assembly of God in Carlsbad, NM who taught me to keep searching for truth because there was more to God than I truly knew.

I am grateful for 3rd & Kilgore Church of Christ in Portales, NM who taught me that I’m not the only one going through stuff and that if we stick together, we can get through it together. That everyone makes mistakes and forgiveness is key.

I am grateful for Dora Church of Christ in Dora, NM who kept me going and was filled with some of the sweetest people I have ever met and the precious Simpson family who loved me unconditionally.

I am grateful for Faith Christian Family Church in Clovis, NM. They taught me about the relationship side of God, His favor, His mercy & His unending love. They taught me the spiritual side of following God, the gifts of the Spirit, what God is capable of what I am capable of through the Holy Spirit. They taught me skills I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

I am grateful for The Vine Community Church in Clovis, NM. They have taught me that it’s ok to not be perfect, that I can be myself and still follow after God. They picked a broken and hurting girl like me up off the floor and nurtured her back to life. They taught me that people matter, we are all broken and our ultimate purpose is to serve God’s people and make His name great, not mine. I’m thankful because if I am in a bind, I know I can call any number of people in this church and they will drop what they’re doing and be there at a moments notice because they value me.

I am thankful for Central Christian Church and Iglesia Evangélica Cristiana Espiritual, both in Clovis, NM, who recognized the need for each church to work together and allowed 3 churches to live together under one roof.

I said all that to say this. We HAVE to stop fighting. We HAVE to stop tearing each other down. We HAVE to work together.

Every church is made up of people. People are not perfect. Every church on this list and every church in general have made mistakes. The attenders, the members, the staff, the leadership, the pastor, everyone has hurt someone and everyone has experienced hurt. But, forgiveness is key. Because each church and each staff member and each pastor has been called, sanctioned, chosen and placed in their position by God to do His good works and make His name great. They are God’s churches, they are God’s people and God is moving. People are being saved.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Today, let’s all make a decision to encourage, edify and speak life about “The Church”. Let’s pray for every church, leadership, staff and pastor in our community. Let’s give honor, glory and praise to God for the work He is doing through each church.

Let us shut down criticism and ungodly talk, whether that’s from our own mouths or another person. Let us choose to forgive. Let us choose to dwell on the positive and not the negative.

Lastly, what do you believe? And why do you believe this? Is it because you grew up that way? Your church does it that way? Is it because you pastor said so? Because your parents taught you that? Because you read it online? I encourage you to go to the ONLY source where you can find absolute truth, your Bible, God’s word. Let us learn together and build up one another in Christ Jesus along the way, and may we bring those who are broken and lost along side us as we do.