What do you love? If you were to answer this question, how would you answer it? Does a person’s name come to mind? Maybe it’s your career or a hobby?

During January, I challenged Harvest Church in a series called “I Love My Church.” Why is it important that we are able to say that? I believe it’s important because the church is the family of God!

Right on the heels of the holidays, where we spent much time with loved ones, we may have understood once again just how important family is in our lives. At the same time, we also probably realized that while family is great, it’s not always perfect. We don’t always see eye to eye with the other people who make up our family. There is not always agreement on what families ought to do, especially when facing important decisions. But at the end of the day, we’re still family.

The same is true in the family of God, the church. Many people have had difficult experiences in church and have then concluded that it would be best to simply walk away.

In doing so, they have also come to the realization that life is difficult at times. It throws many challenges our way, many of which can seem too hard to handle ourselves. And I have yet to find anyone who truly wants to go through life, especially in the difficult moments, all by themselves.

The good news is we don’t have to. There is a place for everyone inside the church. Everyone is wanted. Everyone is needed. But like any other relationship in life, it’s not always easy. Feelings do get hurt at times. Disappointment may surface on occasion.

While that is all true, the church as the family of God has such an incredible way of being there for each other.

For 2017, I would encourage you to strongly find a church where you can say, “I love my church.” The great news is, you have many great churches from which to choose. All across our county are amazing churches doing some incredible kingdom work.

I am confident in saying that any of these churches would be glad to welcome you into their family. I know that’s true of our church.

So, how about it? Is this the year you branch out to discover a church family you did not even know existed? If you accept this challenge, I am confident you will discover a place where you can belong and benefit from the blessing of relationship with others. At the same time, you just may bless others, as you live in relationship with each other.

I hope, by the end of the year, you are able to say with many others, “I love my church.”

Brad LeRoy is lead pastor of Harvest Church in Mt. Comfort. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.