I Love My Church

This is a guest post by Danielle Vargas, a member of Garden City Church.


Every week, and sometimes multiple times a week, I find myself saying, “I love my church!” I love that. Here are some reasons why:

1. What you see is what you get. The people are real, honest, and want to live life with you.

2. My church is passionate about non-believers AND believers knowing Jesus and understanding the gospel.

3. My church loves my city.

4. The mission and vision aren’t just sayings on a website, it’s the fuel that drives the members.

5. The leaders are visionaries. They inspire me to dream big dreams and pray big prayers.

I love my church and I believe God has brought Garden City Church into existence for his glory, for my city, and for people like me. I have found that the very mission of my church, making disciples to impact the city for Jesus, frees me from preoccupation with myself.

My heart is prone to return to its stony, selfish, original state. It quickly turns inward and focuses on me, my life, and what I want. Before I know it, this inward self-focus causes a rapid downhill decay of my once alive, flourishing and joyful heart. I think this “hardening” must be what the writer of Hebrews warns about in Hebrews 3:13: “Exhort one another… so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

This must be one of the reasons God has called me to be a part of a new church plant in San Jose. Every week I am called out of my self absorption and commissioned to labor with others for a much greater purpose than myself. San Jose is a city with a lot of people who don’t know Jesus, who don’t care about God, and are seeking their joy in things that will never satisfy. It is dark, spiritually dead, and loves sin. But God is in the business of bringing light to a dark world, pouring out love to the lost, and causing the dead to become alive. It’s what he does best. It puts his glory on display and it makes him look ridiculously good. My pastor pleads with us to be people like Paul who say, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” I find myself wondering why my heart doesn’t resonate with Paul who, when talking about people that didn’t know God, says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.”

It’s by coming to church and hearing the gospel that once again my stony heart is broken, and my rebellious heart rejoices in God. My layers of self-absorption are peeled off one by one and I start thinking about others. Names of co-workers, unbelieving family members, hurting people come flooding into my mind. I begin to beg God to make my heart break for them. I ask him to give me a heart that wants others to experience the power of the gospel that changed me.

I am not a natural visionary. In most cases, I tend to be more of a helper. I will help you get done what needs to be done, but don’t ask me what I think my life will look like five years down the road. So, I need visionaries in my life or my view will stay small and weak. My pastor and the leaders in my church are visionaries. They hope for great things. They pray big prayers, and dream big dreams. They expect thousands of conversions and a city forever changed by Jesus.

Being a part of Garden City is teaching me how to live on mission and placing in me a greater passion for God’s glory than I have ever had. And strangely enough, this frees me from my self. My heart that was wrapped up in its own kingdom is freed to partake in a more magnificent and infinitely more glorious Kingdom. God is using Garden City Church to help me be a person who, “no longer lives for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:15). I consider it my privilege to co-labor and partner with Garden City Church for the gospel. I love my church.

Graphic: Josh Guerette