You know, I have been extremely hesitant to spend an #AffirmationMonday writing about a group of people. I like these posts to be specific. And it is somewhat difficult to be specific about a group of people without making a few generalizations. Please respect and understand that. Additionally, there are multiple individuals in the group who deserve and will have their own #AffirmationMonday posts, but first, I would like to expand on the impact the Euzoa community has had on my life. So, here goes…
I came to Steamboat on a spiritual high. I spent the summer working with one of my best friends and life mentors. We worked with a community I loved. It had also been after a month of work in Kenya and Oklahoma. Basically, I didn’t want to lose the spiritual maturity and community I had spent all summer building. I needed to be plugged into a spiritual community immediately.
I got to Steamboat on either a Sunday or Monday. I remember sitting on the floor of my room alone without furniture thinking I just moved to a town where I didn’t know anyone. My lovely roommates were all spending times with their families. And although their families generously extended invitations to spend the evening with them, I chose a run instead. So there I was. Alone. I sent an email to the pastor at Euzoa and the pastor from another local church. Within the evening, Chris had responded asking if I had time to meet him for coffee the next day. I laughed out loud as I thought, “Chris, I do not know anyone. I think I can probably squeeze you in to my schedule.”
We had coffee the next morning. He invited me to church on Sunday. I still haven’t heard back from the other pastor. Maybe my email was lost in the Internet Abyss. I went to the other church’s Saturday night service and Euzoa’s on Sunday. My brother was with me. After Euzoa on Sunday, he told me I had to go there. I felt the same. Here is why:
1) Euzoa’s worship is perfect for so many reasons. There is passion. There is intensity. There is love. And the music was awesome. I immediately wanted to be involved in the worship band. But judging on appearances, it would take covering my body in tats and getting a flat-bill hat. Now that I am involved, I get to see what makes the experience so intense. One reason is the worship team is a family. Every Thursday, Euzoa provides dinner for the practice. We share a meal together. We laugh. We discuss what is going on in our lives. Also, the practice is actually worship. Sure, we are “practicing” but what we are really doing is enjoying God and each other.
2) Euzoa’s lack of judgment. Upon people. I felt comfortable immediately. And that is because there is an absolute low level of judgment. I guess what I am saying is I am not embarrassed to invite people to come to Euzoa. And that is because I know they will be greeted with love instead of judgment. They will also be met with interesting looking and acting people. They will be met with people covered in tattoos. And piercings. And hats. And laughter. And love. In a world of church’s getting caught up in the little things like appearances and politics and getting to service and leaving as soon as possible and leaving our faith at the church door instead of taking it out into the world, Euzoa gets it.
3) Euzoa’s love for the people of the Yampa Valley. Again, Euzoa gets it. They have a passion to love people in this valley. Instead of spending millions to display the love, they talk to people. They spend time with people. They do not have the millions to spend, but even if they did, they would spend it loving people instead of trying to increase church numbers. They spend a lot of time in prayer. They try to reflect Jesus to this beautiful valley and these beautiful people as much as possible.
Obviously no one is perfect. And therefore, no church community can be perfect. But I think Euzoa does a good job of being upfront with that. One thing they do well is make people feel a part of their community. The welcome people. They show them love without judgment, trying to get them to become members or take all of their money. They love God well. They love others well.
*Editor’s note: I tried to find a photo of Euzoa. No success. Just imagine a barn-looking structure in an Aspen stand with multiple buildings and ponds surrounding it. And dogs running around. A lot of dogs.
*Editor’s (second note): I ran a race this weekend. I share this article not to toot my own horn but because I hate it. Luke did a fine job writing it. But, it was not the story I wanted to be portrayed. Honestly, I think I sound like an arrogant ass. It made me sick to my stomach Saturday evening. But, I learned something from it. I am taking myself and my running way too seriously. Running is an absolute gift. So, now I am focusing (again) on enjoying it. Running without socks so I can feel the dirt on my feet. Taking my shirt off so I can feel the warmth of the sun on my back and chest. Running fast when I feel like running fast. Running slow when I feel like it. What I am saying is, I am finally Forest Gump. Beard and all.