Monday, April 09, 2007

Searching for a Home

When Incrediboy started preschool last fall, we enrolled him in a school run out of a church near our places of work. Along with playtime and lessons on colors, shapes, letters, and the typical fare, the kids also enjoy Bible story time and a Christian centered atmosphere. We love this, both feeling it’s immeasurably important to instill a faith-based belief system in children.

Unfortunately, we’ve also used it as an excuse to not worry about going to church so much.

The Hub and I haven’t settled on a new home church since we moved away from the city almost 3 years ago. Our previous church was wonderful. Contemporary music, lots of outreach ministries, and a brilliant pastor who possesses an uncanny gift of consistent poignancy. Most people in attendance raised their hands as they praised the Lord. I rarely did, simply because I wasn’t raised that way and it wasn’t a natural impulse of mine – but it didn’t bother me in the slightest that anyone else did. I always left church feeling restored, revived, and closer to God than when I entered.

When we moved, our commute to this church grew from 10 minutes away to 40 minutes, and it was hard to justify the distance. Plus, we felt it would be good to find a church in our new community. We have visited our previous church’s new satellite church many times, only 5 miles from us, but the Hub doesn’t care much for the pastor's style. I feel it’s important for the whole family to agree and feel at home at a church, so we have yet to settle on a new spiritual home.

Hub and I both come from a strict, old-fashioned Baptist upbringing. We stopped going to church in our young adulthood, and when we met we spent a long time trying to find a place where we both felt comfortable. We were both happy at the old church, but as we’ve been searching for a new one, our tastes in approach seem to have grown in different directions. We both seek a Nicene creed, cut-the-crap, Bible-centered doctrine, with nothing added and nothing taken away. We also prefer a more casual dress code, not being much for fashion shows. But while I really enjoy the more relaxed approach to the music – live band, more contemporary, toe-tappin’ hand clappin’ worship songs, etc. – Hub is leaning back towards the traditional Hymnal-centered music of our upbringing. Honestly, I’m not against that – the old standards are fine! I just kind of like the contemporary stuff better – I *feel* the worship more.

The music really isn’t the important part though. It’s whether or not you’re being “fed”. Is the message making a difference in our lives?

We visited Hub’s cousin’s church this weekend. It was very much like the churches we grew up in – old fashioned, very Baptist, very reserved. Surprisingly, though, not stuffy in the slightest. Most people were dressed up, but a few were dressed down and weren’t receiving shocked looks in response. The music was very traditional – typical Baptist fare. Everyone sang dutifully and reservedly. Special music was courtesy of a barbershop quartet, which was certainly not a contemporary genre, but was very enjoyable. And the sermon was no apologies straight preaching out of the clunky verbage of the King James Bible (what I was raised on, and not my preferred version). But the pastor is young, and is a very good speaker. He would direct the congregation to a passage that he would read, and had a habit of injecting “now look at me” afterwards, which kind of tickled me. He encouraged participation, and had a great sense of humor. Most importantly, he exuded enthusiasm and out & out joy as he shared the message.

While traditional, this was not the huffy stuffy Baptist service of my youth.

We are not very good Christians. But we ARE Christians, trying to be better. I'm anxious to find a church to make home, especially for Incrediboy's sake. Hub was very receptive to this atmosphere, and Incrediboy had a blast in “Bitty Church”, clutching a small Easter basket in his hand and chattering all the way to the car. And while I enjoy a more contemporary approach to Sunday Services, a return to the traditional approach roots of my upbringing wouldn’t be an intolerable thing since my family feels at home there. In fact, it felt pretty good.

We’ll see how it goes.


Faith said...

Clew, I know you'll find the right place for you and your family.

On another note, could you please send me your e-mail add'y, so I can get that Amazon gift certificate to you?

Faith (Chauceriangirl)

chesneygirl said...

Finding the "right" church is hard.

We've struggled on and off with it since we were married.

We absolutely LOVE the church we're at now...3 service times to choose from, earliest one is the hymnal worship and the later two are the contemporary band worship.
Most everyone wears jeans every week INCLUDING the pastor! There are many "younger" families that we fit right in with.

HOWEVER! interchurch "politics" are becoming a huge issue all of a sudden and it's not setting right with us...and since we're going to be moving soon, more than likely farther away from our church, we may be leaving it in the very near future. :(

Anonymous said...

I believe you are presently the Christians that God wants you to be....if I ever meet a Christian that says "I'm a good Christian" than I would have to beg for incredible mercy from our Lord to stop myself from getting on my soapbox about the varied definitions of 'christianity'. God loves us where we are and as long as we abide by or are working on his two most important commandments - love Him with our our mind, heart, and strength...and love our neighbors as Himself...then we are good to go with Him. As for the church, oh my! This has long been an issue I am struggling of the reasons I am prayer deep in reading Acts. I go to an awesome church...the worship music makes you want to light a Bic and sway back and forth...and the message is biblical...yet my undoing comes from underlying manipulations...not sure if they are real or just my distrusting nature when it comes to organized religion. I have sought wise counsel from a few of my blogging friends about this topic..wise women who have walked this same path. Bottom line though...I go where my daughter wants to go...she loves our church...and although it is an hour and a half away...and no one from her school goes doesn't matter to her. Ultimately, like you is important to bring our children into relationship with God...both at home and in the church where they are comfortable. Sorry this comment is so long ;)

Anonymous said...

Good luck with that Buddy.

Trish and I have been searching from time to time for a church we BOTH agree on. I'm more for the fire and brimstone preacherman and Trish isn't.

I like the old timey hymns and Trish can swing either way...

It's a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.

bigwhitehat said...

I thought very seriously about keeping this private. I know this could spin your comment thread into places you don't want it to go. But somebody else might need to hear this. If this comment starts trouble just delete it. That won't bother me a bit.

You don’t find a church home. If you try, you will only find a place to be for a while.

You make a church home. You have to participate. You have to open up to changing yourself.

I come from the Churches of Christ tradition. We are probably the stuffiest of all traditions. Our worship is deliberately simple. We sing accapella and approach the other aspects of worship with the same simplicity.

This being the case I have sat through some pretty stuffy and boring worship. When I was younger that bothered me. Now I’m too caught up in my own personal communion with my God and my church.

Don’t get me wrong. I look for lively worship. I like a place where I can sing loud, put my hands up and be moved by the things going on. I like lots of power point, mood lighting and musical accents.

But I have learned that the best church home is where I can find and give support. Most of the time friendships are more important than pyrotechnics. Ministries are more important than friendships. And my own enthusiasm is more important to my children than the youth director’s.

When you look for a house, you consider the mortgage, the square feet, the looks and the potential of all three. You have to make a good fit or you will be moving in no time. Churches are pretty much the same. Consider the efforts you can afford, consider your talents and passions, consider your needs and your families needs then consider how that all fits into a church.

Now I’m really going to quit preaching and go to meddling. Your husband is supposed to be the spiritual leader of your family. Make sure he knows how you think and feel, at every step of the game. Then roll with him. After all, he was smart enough to choose you.

Unknown said...

Great thoughts from everyone that has already posted. I tend to agree with BigWhiteHat.....make the church home and you will be happy!


Nelly said...

I know this can be a struggle. We found a church we are "settled" with but it doesn't feel like home. It is hard for me and other people with small children can either agree or disagree with me, but I have a VERY hard time concentrating on anything going on during mass besides keeping my kids in their seats and quiet! It seems that it is like that with most parents in my parish. Lots and lots of kids and not a whole lot of listening going on! It's crazy! Just making it there every weekend makes me feel good. You'll find the right "fit" for you and your family. I have faith!

Lori said...

Finding a church home is important, but I think it's more important to build a church inside of yourself and attend that everyday. I know that for me, going to church recharges me and restores my faith each week, but honestly, some of the nicest people I know aren't regular church-goers.

I think that we have taken a very simple thing and made it very complicated. It seems like there are so many committees and politics that we've gotten away from the point of it all.

Christianity is something that we all are striving for, not something that we completely reach. For me, being Christian is being Christ-like, and let's face it, most of us have a ways to go on that one! (At least I do!)

I know that you will find a place that feels just right, but in the meantime, live your life as an example. Incrediboy will learn so much from simply watching you.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck in your search. I'm certain you'll find that church home. I think you are a good Christian. You don't judge me and you've always been very supportive.

Rebecca said...

By practicing being a good person, you're being the best Christian you can. Where you oublicly pray shouldn't be as defining as your life actions are.

Feel good in all that you are... :)

Anonymous said...

You disappearin' on me again??

Anonymous said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from, and I commend you for looking for this church home, even though this search is not an easy one. I was out of the church for a long time, and too was raised in a more traditional (stuffy) Baptist environment. Hubby was raised Catholic. For a lot of Ash's life, she wasn't in the church...then one day we decided it was time to make a change. This took a lot of soul searching and praying, but we found a church home that we love. It's a mixture of traditional and contemporary. But it was the church family, the pastor that made it our home. Brother Steve always says during the invitation that if God has told you this is where you should be, then please join us...but if it's not, you're welcome to keep visiting (paraphrasing). Take faith in the fact that God will let you know when you find your home. Love you! said...

I just read a great book titled
"A New Kind of Christian" by Brian D. McLaren. It had some wonderful insights on church and living as a Christian in the modern age. I was feeling kind of restless concerning church and this gave me a lot of hope in that area as well. I think you would enjoy it,