I have many things For which I would like to thank the church. And when I say church, I am referring to the church in which I grew up in, for I do not think I would be where I am today in my "faith journey" if not for that church. There are many, many things I could say about my experiences at that church, but I will keep this very positive and just know that I mean everything I say. I am thankful.
First and foremost...
I am thankful for meeting the love of my life and my best friend, Melissa. I met my wife in my 9th and 10th grade Sunday school class. I honestly remember the first time I ever saw her. I was around the age of 13 or 14. She was not just another student in the same class as me... In fact she wasn't a student at all... She was my Sunday school teacher (I LOVE telling people that... Her not so much). However, we didn't start dating until later... Not until I became an adult at least, And now, 15ish or so years after I first laid eyes on her, and three children later, we are still best friends and madly in love. For that I am thankful.
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to teach young people. I love to teach and I'll never forget the times we had teaching the 11th and 12th grade Sunday school class. We are still close to, and good friends with, many of those kids/now adults. For that I am thankful.
I am thankful for the opportunity to search outside of the denomination I was brought up in. We are so often creatures of habit and it is comfortable to stick with what we know. Though it was painful at the time, I am certainly glad we were "encouraged" to branch out and seek other avenues of worship. For that I am (now) thankful.
I am thankful for being introduced to the Emergent church and a Christianity worth believing, so to speak. Yep, believe it or not I contribute this to that Southern Baptist church. For it was on a youth leaders conference, put on by "Youth Specialties" in Nashville TN, where I first heard about the emergent church. I remember looking at all of the classes we could attend when I noticed one that read something like, "The emergent church and youth ministry". I was curious, so my wife and I attended. It was there I first met Tony Jones and after his presentation, complete with power point presentations, and people in the audience getting upset and arguing with everything he said (Which made a lot of sense to me), I was hooked and have never looked back. I then went to every emergent session at the conference. At that conference, I also heard for the first time, Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne. They also had Rob Bell's NOOMA videos and books for sale all over the place. For all this, I am thankful.
So, though we parted ways some years ago, I am forever grateful for that good ole Southern Baptist church in which I grew up.