Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

Here is the Church

shoutout my iPhone

On my last Sunday at Bannockburn Dripping Springs, a hundredish of my favorite people sneak-attacked me at the end of the service. I was ushered to the front, surrounded by my kids, and prayed over by my church family. Big prayers, brave prayers, unselfish prayers. I ugly-cried. My middle school boys were scarred. So was the youth pastor. It's fine.

The next night was my last Monday night small group; a handful of Austin Christian Fellowship women whom Tracy Ramirez had gathered weekly under her roof like Peter Pan's lost boys. Early twenties to early thirties, single and married, with kids and without, we ran the gamut but ran together; gathering every week to encourage and call up one another.

At the end of the night, just like church the day before, I was covered and prayed for; this time, by women who had front-row seats to the prayers and fears and hopes that ultimately led to transition. They were enthusiastic, like teammates launching one of their own. Their prayers were strong and specific and fierce — knowing just what hard things needed extra coverage and what insecurities needed beating back.

Days later, at the same missions board meeting I mentioned in my last post, one of the board members read Psalm 45:1, and as the group as a whole prayed it over me, and I thought, huh.

For a new place and new faces, this feels familiar.

I hope everyone, at least once in their life, gets to experience the body of Christ operating like He intended. Because once you do, in my opinion, it's impossible not to love the God it represents.

Most of my people in Austin will never meet my people in Katy; and my people in Lynchburg will likely never meet either party, to say nothing of my people in Canada and my ranch people scattered all over the world. (I was going to say country but, hi, Nicole!)

They'll never meet and they'll never know each other; but the majority of them share a heartbeat, a love for God, that unifies them to an extraordinary degree. They pray, they serve, they encourage and they worship with a strength and a consistency that leaves me in awe.

Just like anything comprised of people, churches have an enormous potential for hurt and dysfunction. Plenty have been deeply wounded by church at one point or another. I get that.

But just like it would if someone terminated a relationship after one argument or incident, it breaks my heart when people let a singular hurt determine their separation from church forever.

People are imperfect, but we each uniquely reflect a perfect God. Church done well, church done right, gives you a bigger, broader picture of Him; a greater glimpse at His character and His heart.

No matter where, or when, or who — size and dare I say it oh no brace yourselves denomination aside — people who know and love my God are automatically my people, man. And prayer people especially.

His sameness transcends any new setting or circumstance, and I'm thankful for how that manifests itself in such familiar ways.

Pastor's Kids: The Good

Work (Work Work Work Work Work) (Sorry)