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.
A church should be MORE than just a House of God. It should be a comforting place and one where you feel you belong. I am happy for you.
Oh Clewy, I am soooo happy for you! You know we recently found a church home, too, and there is nothing better after having been out there adrift for so long. It's like, well, coming home.
I totally agree with your descriptions of the things to look for. The lack of many of those things played a big part in why we left our last church. Can you imagine that when I told the pastor of that church we were leaving because we didn't feel the church met our needs for a spiritual "family," a sense of community, that he told me good luck with that because churches just don't fill that need any more because people do their socializing elsewhere? Nice, huh?
Your new church sounds wonderful, and just like the one we were attending for four years and we LOVED it there! And then things started to change and then the pastor recently left and it didn't feel at ALL like it did when we first started attending and so... we've left. And have yet to find another, mostly because we haven't really looked... because I am SO very discouraged with churches right now.... long story. *sigh*
But I am so very glad you've found your "home"... I do remember what that felt like. :)
Funny, your story about finding a church home sounds like a page from my book. I go to what my dad refers to as the "rock and roll" church. It is a come as you are type of church. Want to dress up? Sure. Want to dress down? Sure. Glad you found your spiritual home!
church is so hard. don't know why it has to be that way. there's the bible to preach from (first mistake many make in not doing so) ... and then there's lovin people (second mistake many make).
i spent a year and a half watching this church we now go to before i met with the pastor. and joined. i'm still pacing myself very slowly ... not in any hurry. been very hurt n don't want to go there again.
so thankful you've found a place to begin again and call 'home'
Churches can be such tricky things. I love my church, but there are some things that I really wish I could change. Some of the other churches in the area have such amazing programs, but they dabble waaaaaay too much in politics so I stay far, far, away.
Post a Comment