Working Without Faith - Tara Marcella’s story
Tara Marcella's Story
Growing Up in Church
I had always been a “church person.” My whole family went to church together every time the doors were open. But I was never excited about it, and Jesus wasn’t part of my life. Church was just somewhere I had to be on Sundays. By the time I was 16 I was more than happy to take a job that required me to work on weekends.
In college, partying seemed a far superior option, so I gave up church attendance altogether. But all those years of church culture left me with a sense of obligation, and I let a friend convince me to work at a Bible camp one summer in college. It was there that I was convicted about not leading a godly lifestyle, and I decided to try church again.
I looked for a church in Columbia that was the same denomination as the one I grew up in. My future husband, J.P., wasn't comfortable there. We felt constantly judged. When we moved to Irmo, there was a small church right down the street. J.P. didn't like it, but I attended alone for a year and got involved in children's ministry. When the men of the church reached out to J.P., he gave his life to Jesus, was baptized, and became a member. It seemed like this was going to be the church our family would grow up in.
I was in a gigantic rut.
Before I knew it, years had passed. I was one of the directors of the children's ministry, and my husband was an elder, but I was in a gigantic rut. As part of his duties at church, J.P. went to NewSpring’s Unleash conference in 2008 and came back on fire for Jesus. His enthusiasm was infectious, and I began to watch NewSpring online every Sunday. We could feel God calling us to join NewSpring, but we felt obligated to the work at our current church.
The people there were our family, but I wanted to be in a place where I could see Jesus moving. So even though I felt horribly guilty for leaving the other teachers in the children’s ministry, my desire for Jesus was stronger. On our very first Sunday at NewSpring, the message was a detailed explanation about the church’s principles. It resonated with us, and J.P. and I knew God was confirming that NewSpring was exactly where He wanted us. When we attended the ownership class, I was asked for my salvation story. I truly believed I was saved, and from my church background, it was easy to regurgitate the “right” answer. Almost out of habit I started serving with children in KidSpring.
I’ve come to realize that one of the many ways NewSpring is different from my old churches is the emphasis this church places on knowing exactly when we met Jesus. I thought that growing up in the church and serving meant I knew Jesus, but I was wrong. There has to be a moment when we decide to follow Him. One evening while driving with J.P., I told him I needed to give my heart to Jesus. He stopped the car, led me in prayer, and at that moment I became a new woman in Christ.
My walk with Jesus has become the most important thing in my life. My faith isn’t something I do one day a week; it’s who I am every day. I crave my quiet time every morning, and my prayer life is so much more focused and purposeful. Now, rather than giving people a vague promise to pray for them when they tell me about a need, I pray with them that moment. I feel God nudging me to take my next step by serving as a member of the Care Team, so I can pray with people on a regular basis.
Now I’m serving Jesus out of obedience rather than obligation, and I have never experienced such freedom and growth in my life.