We’ve been going to church every week for about a month and a half now. If you’ll remember from my 2017 Goals post (link HERE), finding a church was on my list. Well, we’ve tried out two different churches since January and have found one that seems like a good fit for us.
The initial search began shortly after we moved here, (3 years ago) actually. I started doing exhaustive research online and had narrowed it down to two churches that I was interested in. But then life got in the way and finding a church fell to the bottom of the “to-do” list.
When I decided to resume the search recently, my husband and I sat down and discussed what we hoped to find in a church.
Here were our specifications:
–We wanted good sermons. If a minister/pastor/priest just stands in front of the congregation and reads directly from the Bible, I’m out. I can do that at home. I want someone to explain the Bible and then expound on it so that it’s relatable to my everyday life. I mean, anyone can “attend” church but it takes some work to really be “present” while you’re there. I’m ready to be present.
–We wanted some quiet time for prayer/meditation/reflection during the service. I’ve been to churches before where the only prayer was a recited chant, mumbled by the whole congregation together. While I’m not opposed to that, I also want some time to have my own, quiet, prayerful time in church.
–We wanted an open-minded community. We’re raising open-minded, open-hearted children and we don’t want to attend a church that preaches that people who look different or love differently are not our equals.
–We wanted a less-traditional service. My days of wearing a dress and Kevin wearing a suit every Sunday are over–as is convincing my kids to wear “church clothes” every Sunday.
A little backstory: I grew up in an unbelievably stiff and stuffy church in a tiny, southern Texas town. Everyone had unspoken “assigned seats” at this church. God forbid you accidentally sit in Rusty Smith’s pew, or you’d get the unholy stink eye for the whole service. Also, there was no engagement during church. You sat in your seat, you stood for hymns and you recited the prayers and blessings. There was no introspection. In fact, my mom typically used the sermon time to doodle her grocery list in the margins of the church program. We never, ever mixed and mingled during the service. There was the occasional potluck lunch held in the fellowship hall after church, where awkward small talk and thinly veiled gossip ran rampant, under the watchful gaze of the church elders and clergy. It wasn’t a warm, welcoming place and I wanted something different for my family.
So, in January, we went to the first church on our list. It was appealing to us because it was close to home and had come highly recommended. Granted, we only went once, but it was not a good fit for any of us. It didn’t meet any of our criteria, so we didn’t go back.
Then, the following Sunday, we went to the second church that I’d been interested in since we moved here. It immediately felt more welcoming and I could tell that it was a good fit for our family almost immediately. It’s a small building with the pews arranged in an oval shape. The minister is a woman who has a sage, calming voice that I could listen to forever. There’s also time to meditate and/or quietly pray during the service, which I really have been craving. There’s also a fairly active social scene outside of the church, which appeals to me as well.
For many years now, I’ve craved a community. I’ve craved a closer relationship with God. I’ve craved spiritual guidance. I’ve sat in too many church pews zoning out, not taking anything in. I’ve been ready for a change for quite some time.
It seems like we’ve found a good church for our family. It is everything that I had hoped to find in a church and the people are warm, welcoming and diverse. I’m finding myself looking forward to Sundays now and the time of introspection and peace that it brings. I also have enjoyed having some place to go on Sundays. It sounds silly, but just the act of getting up, getting dressed and getting out of the house seems to propel us all toward having a more productive Sunday.
So, tell us about your church.
Have you ever tried out a different church?