Posted by: ME | August 22, 2011

Church hunting, cont’d

I don’t know how this will flow, because my frame of mind is now different from that last post, but here goes.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was done. Frustrated. Aggravated. Content with watching our ‘old” church online in my jammies.

We decided as a family to stop looking for a while and try again at a later time. When we went home to Louisiana for Christmas, we were able to enjoy our normal church service. Candlelight, in a SANCTUARY, ending with Silent Night and a quiet, reflective exit.

Leaving there that night was wonderful and gave us some hope that at least every Christmas, we would have this.

After a couple months of alternating Sundays with a huge local church and sitting on the sofa comfortably, watching our old church, my hubby and children let me know that THEY were tired of this and that we needed to start looking again. See, my kids want church. They want fellowship and bible study and their own place to worship. Yes, we had friends and I couldn’t ak for more, but somewhere, deep inside us, we DO need more. So, off we went, the following Sunday, to the NEXT church that we picked out and I begrudgingly went to- a SMALL Baptist church around the corner with a notable youth group that one of our homeschool friends loves.

Let me tell you how welcoming the little Baptist church was! Goodness , while super nice, it was a bit scary. I wondered if we were the first new people in ages. They had a tiny choir! They had a decent youth group(or so I heard, we never found out). The service was 2 HOURS long. The pastor was very nice and we even emailed back and forth a few times when I asked him to pray for our family in our church hunt. Overall, VERY nice people, but not for us.

Back to the jammies and the TV and the HUGE non denominational church.

About 2 months ago, we decided to try the local UMC out over again, just in case we were looking at it from the wrong perspective last year, right after our move. We thought enough time had gone by and that we definitely had stopped shopping for our HOME church here in Florida. It didn’t exist. No sanctuary, no cross, no youth choir, no drama, no kids bible studies, no non geriatric Wednesday night dinner. Not here. After questioning ourselves in MANY ways about where we REALLY stood with God and where He stood with us, we went back to the UMC. Amazingly, we still disliked it, and for the same reasons we disliked it last year. No sanctuary, no cross, groovy music, groovy pastor who seemed to speak well to men, but women evade him(JMHO), NOT for us.

So, we then went back to the small/medium sized up and coming non denominational church that we went to for 6 weeks not quite a year ago. We went two weeks in a row and all sat after service and decided THIS was where God wanted us to be. It was unanimous, like when we found this house to buy. Ironically, it was between this church and the HUGE one, and I hated the HUGE one.

About the HUGE non denominational church that my hubby liked: In my very limited brain, and in my VERY emotional heart, this church has a lot going for it , but to me, it is a “get ’em in a dunk ’em” kinda church. Although the PREACH they are not about numbers, they most certainly ARE. Maybe it was a God thing, telling me this is NOT it, but EVERY stinkin’ time we went to that church(which over the past 19 month, was a decent amount since this was our fall back, plus it was close by and one of their services is at 11am-perfect!) they talked about numbers: how many they baptized, how many showed up, how many campuses they have, how much money they pulled in, etc….

Don’t get me wrong, their lead pastor is a talented and God loving and fearing man, who preaches well. We have enjoyed his sermons. Until the “other guy” comes out after the sermon to talk “other stuff”, after the closing song. Lets drag it out a little longer and painfully.

They dunk a lot of people, which is amazingly wonderful, but what is missing there, in my opinion, is the journey. Christianity is not about the MOMENT, it is about the JOURNEY. Some of us have MOMENTS, but most of us have JOURNEY’s. Even those who have their MOMENT, still have the long haul of the journey ahead, and to me, this is what counts. Saying the first “yes” is great, but saying the tenth, hundredth or thousandth “yes” is epic.

About our new church:

It has a sanctuary feel to it, even more now since they have expanded. There is not one cross, but TWO, plus Jesus is all over that place, and not just spiritually and emotionally. Blame it on my Roman Catholic upbringing, but He needs to be front and center, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Otherwise, empty, one of these new “churches” looks like an empty concert hall or a techie-d up gym, not an empty sanctuary. No place for quiet reflection. No reverence (I just like balance). There is no time for offerings during service. If you want to give, there are boxes at the back of church to put your money and tithes into. I like this because they are not asking. They are wanting you to be spiritually LED to give. This church has a hug missionary heart. Our oldest may be the reason we are there. You see and hear about what they DO in the world and encourage you to do the same. The pastor is very passionate about his calling and it is evident. There is a good youth group that our oldest went to last year that I will work my way into eventually. There are also many homeschool members.

Ironically, last year, when we went to their “come check us out and find out our beliefs” meeting for newbies, they handed out picture frames (and a coffee mug! like every other church) and the pastor told us that this frame needs to hold an image of our church family in some way. That even if it wasn’t THERE, to fill that frame with a memory from a church event from the church that had become OURS. Those 4 frames are still empty. At one time I had thought about putting in pictures of our HOME church family, but decided to have some hope. I don’t know where this will lead, or if we will stay there for a short time or a long time, but for now, this is our family’s decision and I am SO relieved!

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