It is Sunday yet again and we are at our new home… Which meant it was church shopping round three.
*Huge groans from the M household.*
I remember when I first moved away, I was excited to find a new church and the change that it might bring. I tried three churches. I settled at the third one I went to and went to evening services from time to time at the second (and a fourth…Thanks to Patrick). Somehow, it took just a small fluke, a single old friend and a church bus for God to lead me to that church.
This time around, we were not quite as excited to find a new church. Probably because we loved our old one and miss our church family from both places terribly. Also, in a city this big, there are many options to sift through.
Needless to say, our last church visited was awesome. There were no big red flags. No overwhelming calling from God, but something keeps making me want to go back that makes me think God has something in store for us there… Maybe.
But, this week, because we had said we would check out a few more churches and because I am super stubborn, we visited another church. This was a Weslyan church about 20 minutes from our apartment.
First of all, the whole 20 minutes from the apartment is big to me. It isn’t an unreasonable distance, but much of that trip is highway driving. I like drives, but I don’t know if it is something I want to do regularly. Especially come winter.
We get there (late thanks to poor signage on the roads leaving the city) and it is a beautiful, modern looking building. Everything is pretty and new. Including the classy lights and such in the sanctuary. The church is full. In fact, they have two morning services there are so many people.
This combination leaves my head wanting to explode. I think it is fantastic that a church is thriving, but I struggle with the separate service thing. I mean, I want to go to church and have a community. Yes, small groups do that. But, it is pretty crazy when you don’t necessarily even see the people who go to the other service. And the newness of the building and such… It is lovely. But, I always think that money could go elsewhere. Maybe because my church at home-home often can’t even pay bills from month to month, let alone modernize, but there is still all kinds of stuff going on. It frustrates me that so much money would be used for new buildings and pretty buildings when you could have something decent for part of the cost and put the funds towards other things. Things that are more kingdom minded. And yes, new and shiny brings people in… And sometimes new and shiny is needed when old gets too old. But new and shiny can also detract from things.
But, I tried (really hard) to push down my irrational issues with drives and fancy buildings to pay attention to what was happening. I liked the worship. The worship team was huge. The preaching was practical… Lots of scripture references. Although, I didn’t like how much the pastor kept going back to famous people quotes too… For every scripture there was a famous person. Interesting, but it felt overdone. Again, different styles. Only one service.
The church seemed missions minded. They had a few projects on the go for things overseas. Big childrens’ programs. Lots of young families.
We left after talking to one greeter who noticed my university jacket from med school. Other than that, we slipped under the radar. I was okay with that.
On the drive home, Patrick asked what I thought of the whole thing. I couldn’t phrase it. There was nothing wrong with the church. There were no “big red flags.” On the other hand, there was nothing that made me want to go back. He agreed. He found it reminded him a bit of his church growing up, which he loved (and I like) and yet it didn’t really beckon.
It just isn’t the church God wants us at.
Or maybe it isn’t the church we want to be at.
I have to keep questioning our logic to make sure it is actually the right decision.
Last night, we were talking with our friends who were visiting town for a couple nights about the church hunt. They are still trying to find a place to call home-home after being in the same city for 9 years. It has been a struggle. They have a church home, but no really tight ties. Not the draw from God to stay they home to one day find.
We discussed how the church we had before was good. That God really blessed us in our church family and ministry. That we really didn’t expect that initially. We also discussed how we feel like it is time for a change (not that we had a choice in the matter). And how God gives us what we need in His own time. Maybe sometimes having community in other ways is what God wants. Or the freedom to investigate other church groups.
Honestly, it is difficult to have the answers.
I feel frustrated because a piece of me just wants to settle down. I think God hasn’t said “no” to the place we went before and that it would be a change and also offer community we have been seeking. But another piece of me is scared to settle down or to miss out on what God is offering. I know God gives second chances and what we need and such, if we pay attention and ask.
We have another friend who thinks she needs to check out at least 5-10 churches before you can really know where to go. We have been praying about and discussing the places to try beforehand. It seems more efficient. But, to each their own, I suppose. I can’t hop around for another 2 months. At least not without a big shove from God. I like to think He gives us some direction in where to try to minimize the angst. Plus, I feel like there is a consumerism side to church hopping that can sometimes crop up that makes me uncomfortable. That is why God really needs to have the reigns for us to get anywhere at this point.
It would be nice if everyone could be in the same place. If everyone had a good church home. I know that isn’t always the case. But, I think God does direct us for our good and His purposes. Hopefully we get to stop and stay somewhere soon, though.