Family Worship In The Barn

If you saw my last post, you saw this picture:

Family worship in the barn, white legs and all!

This is how I first learned to worship: in shorts and a t-shirt. I was 12 years old...hearing about Jesus for the first time at summer camp. Our family worship in the barn reminded me of those summers. Just so pure and simple. Crazy as it sounds, I think a small part of my "Little Linsey" heart was recovered on Sunday.

I love it when all else is stripped away and my heart sings. I love it when I'm not mindful of makeup, outfits, being the new girl or feeling like I have to smile in the hallways. I love it when the smile just comes naturally...out of a heart that is alive and free.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

I love to worship, but some Sundays, church feels like work. I didn't realize that until we moved. The first few months, I came home with a migraine every Sunday...no matter which church we visited. {There are so many great churches here, by the way. It's not the church's fault.} At first, I thought the headaches were a result of "new girl overload." But now that the headaches have subsided, I'm tapping into something older and deeper.

I didn't grow up going to church. My family was all about sleeping in, big breakfasts and reading the funny pages. Fine by me! Why get all dressed up and go to church when you could stay home in your PJs?

But after four life-changing summers at Camp Ozark, I wanted more than just two weeks with God. So at age 15, I started going to church. It was formal and a little stiff, but I was happy to be learning hymns and the basic stories of the Bible.

It was in college that I really learned to love Sunday mornings. We dressed casually, sat on the floor or window sills if the pews were full, sang our hearts out, heard Scotty Smith preach the gospel of grace, and ate country breakfasts after with whatever money we didn't put in the offering plate. {All that in Downtown Franklin. Funny how God works...bringing me back to Franklin all these years later!}

These two are the real deal.
{They helped lead worship in Houston from time to time.}

When I graduated from Vanderbilt and returned home to Houston, JD and I stumbled upon a brand new church that was meeting in my old elementary school cafeteria. I loved the mix of old and new music, learned a TON about the Bible, and made some very dear friends.

But somewhere along the way, without even knowing it, I started performing more than worshipping.

The performance started in my closet on Sunday morning. What to wear? Did I wear that last week? Can I still wear white jeans? Are my toes ready for sandals? Then there's the time spent in front of the bathroom mirror. Hair. Makeup. Studying my outward appearance a little too intently. Why was I trying to make myself look good when Jesus says to come just as I am? Isn't church supposed to be the place where we can be a mess? Be ourselves? "Getting ready" became a distraction...a covering up of my heart so I could be acceptable in the eyes of others.

And then there was the car ride. {I'm convinced more marital tiffs and sibling spats break out in the car on the way to church than any other time!} And the big smiles we put on when we arrived. {Despite whatever had just happened in the car!} Followed by the high pitched "How are yous?" and the "We're goods!" that filled the hallways. Our church was full of great people, but it was hard to be authentic when you were shuffling through a crowded hallway with a baby on your hip and a toddler melting at your feet.

Are you tired yet? I am...and I haven't even told you about all that I did for the church. I applied my perfectionistic, over-achieving self to leading Bible studies, hosting small groups, greeting visitors at the front door, writing and editing for my pastor, giving generously to the new building...all in the name of Jesus and in the spirit of "excellence." There were moments of authenticity, but looking back, I was quite the performer, or the impostor as Brennan Manning calls it in Abba's ChildI was striving...even as I sang about how strivings cease in Christ!

Again, this wasn't the church's fault. It's what I brought to the church. In all of my striving, performing and perfecting {in all my fear of freedom}, I was missing the heart of Jesus. Oh, I thought I knew His heart {with all my theological head knowledge}, but I wasn't leaning into His heart. And that, my friends, is worship in its simplest form: leaning into the heart of God.

Am I suggesting that we should give up on church? Not at all.

But sometimes we need a break from routine and protocol to see the real Jesus. The Jesus who sets us free from striving, performing, controlling, hiding, avoiding, judging, etc. Sometimes we need to throw off all the stuff we call church {dressing up, busying ourselves with service, burying ourselves in theology} and bask in our freedom. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! {Jesus' words in John 8:36.}

You know what would be really awesome? If I could apply that barn-style freedom to the church...and everywhere else in life!

There's a whole lot about this post that feels imperfect and incomplete, but I'm trusting that in between the lines, there's something God will to whisper to your heart...something just for you!

In freedom and joy,


  1. Your post reinforces my philosophy... It's more important how you live your life...

  2. I miss y'all way too much.....I need a Franklin visit in the near future!!!
    :) Love y'all tons.

    1. I could sure use a Gracie fix! xoxoxo!!!

  3. Love this post. You always make me stop and think, Linsey - whether your message applies to me or not! Love how you bare your soul, or at least work toward being able to do so. I think we should all be working in the direction of authenticity, and can't do so until God has revealed His heart to each of us individually. Glad you are back to blogging. :)

  4. Just like I alway say, standing in a church/temple doesn't make a relationship with G-d, anymore than standing in my garage makes me a car. Loved this post :)

  5. I'm so with you on this one!!! I'm afraid church has become more of a chore, competition in EVERY area, and a time to be more fake than any other! I am worn out with it. I wish we could worship in t-shirts and boots under a tent every Sunday with the homeless and hungry! Then feed everyone and talk! [Without worrying about what we wore or what we said!}

  6. I could write a comment back to you that would be as long as your post. For me it was age 14, at Young Life Camp Saranac. I began attending church with my best friend because our families didn't go. Church in college was incredible, Father Dan, still remains the most inspiring and relatable priest I've ever met. Then somewhere along the way, in the years that followed after marriage and babies, church became something different. Not an obligation, but close to it. Jimmy and I were talking recently about exploring new churches. I don't know if that's the answer, maybe we just need to come worship in your barn! :) But I get what you are saying 100%! xoxo

  7. I get what you are saying too....I feel like I am the Houston you at church....smiling, waving and kissing babies. At one point last year I told my family that we needed to have people from our church for dinner because I felt that they didn't really "know" us and we certainly didn't "Know" them. Unfortunately, we asked a few people, the calendars never connected and we never did it. Then I wondered if it's the wrong church and the wrong people but around here another church will be too much "keeping up with the Joneses" so the inauthenticity would get worse. Hmmm....you gave me a lot to think about today - thank you!

  8. Linsey, you have touched on what my husband and I went through a couple of years ago. Becoming empty-nesters, we left our church of 34 years and found our hearts in a new one. It is still a Lutheran church, but it is come-as-you-are and welcoming to everyone! Take all of the pretense away, and it is easier for the message of God to find your heart~

  9. Just beautiful, Linsey. I am smiling just thinking of the joy God must have felt from your worship last week! Oh my. Profound thoughts.

  10. I don't often have the time to read your posts, but as I was skimming through my e-mails this morning for the important ones, I spied your title and read on. I have to weigh in with a hearty Amen! Your enlightenment of true worship really struck home with this now 60-year-old former worship leader who also spent many years worshipping in a big red barn in my hometown in Arkansas. Pure and unadulterated worship lifted up in unison. There are still pockets of worship that I witness in my travels. It's exactly what you have done and shared that will open the eyes of more of us to search our hearts for what true worship looks like -- leaning into the Heart of God. And we can still paint our toes and decide if white jeans are okay to wear to worship. But it's not until we get to the heart of the matter in us that we can truly put those things aside and their proper perspective and give ourselves away to worship in spirit and in truth.

    Thank you for being transparent with Him and with us and sharing the heart of worship He has given you. Keep leaning into Him!

    En Agape and Blessings,

    Victoria in Texas

  11. Thank you for your honesty! You are so right!
    About a year ago our worship leader, assistant pastor and youth paster(who did our marriage counseling and married us) all left together to start a church. I was excited for them but also felt a little "abandoned" at the time. It was not a smooth transition for our church to say the least. I still feel like there's something missing a year later and struggle every Sunday to want to be there! I wish church wasn't so "political" and we just be ourselves. We dearly love our church and our friends but I need more than that... I need a fire! Thanks for sparking that this morning!

  12. Amen sister. I feel that's all I need to say.

  13. Oh I love how your heart draws me to Jesus! Thank you for your transparency and willingness to share. Your want for Jesus is contagious. What a happy thought it is to think of the 4 of you and all the animals worshipping together! Amazing, so very amazing,grace!!

  14. this tired girl hasn't gone to church in months, except for christmas eve and easter sunday. ashamed of myself. but i'm tired of feeling like i go for all the wrong reasons. like i'm dressing up, putting on a very fake show and then going home frustrated and exhausted and hungry and sometimes mad. amen sister to the car-fighting! we know that routine all too well. if wishes were horses, i'd put on my wellies, and i'd worship along side your precious family, lilly-white legs glowing, singing off-tune. but it would be real. come as you are. thank you for sharing your heart--this girl's heart needed the companionship tonight.

  15. After being in full time vocational ministry for 13 years and many more years of being the go-to volunteer in ministry, I completely relate to every word of this post.

    andy and i are so grateful for our church here in athens. we serve with such healthy people on staff...who all see the need to be REAL...to not STRIVE & PERFORM our way through church ministry. it's refreshing.

    i have to say..i'd give just about anything to worship with you guys in that barn. :) no make up...shorts and a tshirt and hunter boots sounds just about perfect.

  16. Oh my goodness!!! I just absolutely love this!!! Such an encouragement and full of inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing. My favorite is the outfits that you worshipped in this day. My how He was glorified when you came to him just as you were...and made Him your focus! Love, love, love! Thank you. What a beautiful family!


"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one." ~ C.S. Lewis

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