Leading up to Grace Church's 25th Anniversary, we are counting down the days by posting 25 blog posts in 25 days by 25 authors (well, 24... Dave wrote twice)! The post below is one of these posts. Need tickets to the 25th Anniversary celebration at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on September 11, 2016? Get tickets here: gracechurch.us/25. Want more 25th Anniversary blog posts by awesome authors? Check this out!
BY MICAELA SHORE, DIRECTOR OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR COMMUNICATIONS
I've never really known life without Grace Church. I was four when my dad was offered the role of Children's Pastor in 1994, when it was still Grace Community Church, and I became a member of the first generation of Grace PK's (Pastor's Kids). I thought it was pretty cool to be a kid with a dad whose job it was to oversee the care of children in the church. Lots of my friends’ parents also worked at the church. I was one of those kids that started conversations with adults my parents knew, and sometimes halfway through a conversation I would hear, "Oh! You're Chris Shore's daughter!" I would puff out my chest a little bit, put my hands on my hips and say matter-of-factly, proudly, "Yep! Heeee's my dad!"
Most of the time though, I would hang around with my amazing mom, Terri, who led worship in what was then known as Grace Kids Company. I was often in the building at least three to four days a week, running around while my dad worked and my mom volunteered, visiting (pestering) staff members in their offices or finding a quiet corner to read or write in. Someone might see me in a hallway and joke that I should just set up a cot in my dad's office.
Growing up at Grace was a beautiful experience.
Growing up a PK at Grace was also sometimes a painful experience. The church's pain was (is) my family's pain. Ministry life is just as inconvenient, exhausting and burdensome as it is life-giving, empowering, hopeful. People I loved and looked up to left when big, necessary decisions were made. My friends were sometimes their kids, who stopped calling. As a young kid, I didn't feel it as much because I was young enough and my dad came home and wrestled with us and sat at the table for dinner regardless of what he'd faced that day. As I got a little older, I felt it more because I was older and more observant and more questioning. I harbored bitterness and angst at what I saw and experienced, sometimes against specific people, sometimes against questions I didn't have the capacity to answer at the time. Growing up at Grace, I learned the joys and sorrows of working toward the building of God's Kingdom here on Earth.
Then, I moved away from Grace. I've moved ten times in the past eight years, which doesn't provide much opportunity to build new relationships. There have been times when I wasn't able to see my family for six months, once as long as a year. When I did get the opportunity to come home, going to church on Sunday morning was a highlight because I always saw so many people I've known for years, some that have been a part of the village that raised me since I was four. Many of the pastors here are my extended family. I call one "Auntie." Another often introduces me as his "surrogate daughter" to friends. Most of the people on staff in their mid-twenties I saw every Wednesday night at what we then just called "Wednesday Night", now Fuse and Merge. To come home to these people, even for a day, was special and sacred to me. I was often left silenced and weepy during musical worship, overwhelmed at the blessing of being able to come home to such a place, to such people, to such love.
Late last year, I decided to move home, temporarily. What I thought would be only a few months turned into nine (and counting). I took a temporary job on the Communications team at Grace when a team member went on maternity leave. I then took another position on the same team when another team member decided to stay home with her son. I never thought I'd come back to Indiana, let alone work at my home church with people who are like family. God has broken those chains of bitterness and fear that I'd been storing away over the years I've been gone. I've been reconnected to friends, who welcomed me into their small group (I was never intending on joining a small group, by the way) and for the first time in eight years, I have a solid spiritual community.
I wasn’t actually planning on staying in Indy when I moved back nine months ago. But now, I think I will.