Monday, April 19, 2010
I'm taking a break today from my standard snark to chitchat about the progress of a hunt on which I have been: The quest for a new home church. I've been (finally) visiting a church that we drive past every single day. I'm kind of annoyed with myself that it took me so long to visit this place, because after a month-long test drive, I've decided I really
like ... make that love ... this one.
We have been looking for a church we can call home ever since we moved to the country. We've tried this one and that one - given them a fair run - and have not felt any of them thus far were where we were meant to be on a permanent basis. Various pieces have not fallen into place correctly. Some more significant than others, varying from unpreferable preaching styles to "invisibility factor" to geographical distance to doctrinal conflicts to stuffy wardrobe practices.
Now don't get me wrong. The most important factor first and foremost, is if we are being "fed" there, and that it is a diet rich in the Word and low on fillers. I make sure to establish that before I even visit twice. But there are other factors as well. Picking a church is much like buying a home. Sure, you will have a roof over your head and a fire in the hearth with a lot of different places. But does the structure fit your needs? What are the neighbors like? If you are a parent, how is the (Sunday) school system? Will you be able to become a part of this community, or does it just not set right with you?
For me, a church is an extended family. You greet, you share, and you fellowship. The Lord had this in mind when He commanded us to gather together for worship - to not only meet up under a roof for some God Time, but to love and count on one another as family. It's strange to me that we can go to churches and not one person will come up and talk to us. But it's happened, and more than once.
When I first visited this new church, I was warmly approached by and engaged in conversation with more people on the first day than I had been the entire 6 months I'd attended our previous place. It was really nice. One of the people I'd met on that first day was one of the two pastors. Who remembered me in the following weeks. Also really nice.
The atmosphere is come-as-you-are. There are people in suits and people in cargo shorts and flip flops. And nobody notices either way - they're just happy to be there together. Some raise their hands in praise, others don't - just do whatever you feel like with that. The children's programs are wonderful. The music is contemporary but not distracting from the purpose. The pastors are real people who do not hide the fact that they have made mistakes and bad choices in their lives. The messages are unapologetically biblical and effectively applied in addressing current lifestyles and events. I leave feeling better than I did when I came.
That about covers it for me.