Monday, June 15, 2015

We Bought a Farm: The Search for a Church

Our little town has a few churches. We tried one last week, and I imagine we might try a few more, but I don't hold out high hopes of finding a match in our town of 800.

Most likely, we will be looking to attend church in "the big city." I laugh about that phrase the big city because that town is only 15,000 people -- a far cry from anything large.

Yesterday JB had to work, and my brother agreed to try a new church with me. I really can't wait to try churches only when we don't have guests in and/or John is not working. We are going to be having a lot of guests! And JB works a lot of Sundays.

So we made the 30 minute drive into "the big city" in two vehicles to try another church I had heard about.

I wouldn't say I enjoy trying churches. It's all such a weird experience. While everyone says that they want you to find the church that the Lord is calling you to, they obviously want you to pick their church. So they are, even innocently, trying to impress you, and you are, honestly, playing the consumer.

You tell yourself it shouldn't be this way. You should be looking for what you can bring to a church not what you need from a church. But it sure is hard to see it that way as you drop your kids off in a new nursery and sit in a new pew and shake hands with a bunch of new people and listen to a new sermon and preacher and hear new music.

You are sizing everything up. Would this work? Is this acceptable? Can we handle this drive? this length of service? this size? this music?

Every time we have moved previously: first to Kentucky, then Minnesota, then Northern Florida, then to Turkey, the Azores, and finally Central Tennessee, our stay has been knowingly short. Each time we know we'd be there for only a short period of time, and as a result, there wasn't so much pressure to "get it right."

In fact, in Turkey and the Azores it was even easier than that. There weren't churches to choose from there. You're a Christian? Here you go. Here's the only place to worship. (Okay, to be fair, the Azores had two choices. But still. That's not very many in comparison to the Bible belt.)

But now, here we are in Tennessee in a place we are planning to live forever. Leaving a church is always difficult and awkward. Finding a new church is always time-consuming and frustrating. So we want to pick the place that fits us the best.

And we don't want to get it wrong.

Thank goodness our kids are in a good place. Abigail has left her intense shyness behind and now easily tries new things. Hannah barely cries when she separates from us. And the boys are always together and willing to go as well. That makes it way easier to look than it was when we first came back to the USA.

This church was nice. As is usually the case as a result of Murphy's Law of visiting churches, the pastor wasn't speaking today. So we will probably try this one again in the future when JB can be there and the pastor is set to talk.

I did get a kick out of a few things though. These things included:

  • Bringing five children into the 4-7 year old class. It doubled how many they normally had, and they had to bring in another table. In addition, instead of giving us five visitors cards, they just handed me one boy card and one girl card and said this could represent everyone!
  • Picking Hannah up from the nursery. She was the only child in the nursery, and yet the nursery worker looked physically exhausted. I'm always encouraged to hear other people say about my Hannah what I feel everyday. "Holy cow is she busy." "She doesn't really like to play with toys." "She has a mind of her own." Yep. That about sums it up.
Next week ... we'll try again!


Paula said...

Just a thought--I don't think you have to choose one way of looking at fit--it's not a matter of just what you can bring to a church, or just what you need from it, but both. We have to be fed to be able to feed others. There's nothing wrong with considering your needs as well as those of the church you attend. I hope your search is fruitful and not too long!

Anonymous said...

I like Paula's advice above! Some advice that someone gave us when we moved to a new state and were trying to find a church was to visit a church at least three times. Such good advice! -- Tracye