Sunday, January 20, 2013

Church #1

The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it. ~Charles H. Spurgeon

We visited a church this morning that is a family-integrated church, that is to say that families stay together during service except for preschoolers and under. It seems there is no Sunday School classes segregated by age either. The building they are in was a higher end BBQ restaurant that went out of business within a year of opening. Now the cheaper BBQ restaurants used to do very well in this area, but many people had moved into the area who were not BBQ fans so even many of these restaurnats have closed. This building with river stone pillars was vacant for several years. Our former pastor used to dream of moving our church into that building.

We enjoyed the people and service very much. They are grounded in the Word but they are open to breaking with traditions to be all things to all men. For instance, the service is flipped. Instead of having praise and worship at the beginning and ending with the sermon, they do announcements, sermon, and then praise and worship. Having been the praise and worship leader in our last church, I can tell you that there were times that I wish we had been singing after the sermon! It was refreshing.

It actually is a small church with not many families, but all the families are young...well, younger than we are. We could have been the oldest couple there, but my husband thought he saw two people who might be older--they may have been the parents of the man delivering the sermon. We sang three contemporary songs, two of which were hymns in modern arrangements, which we knew and the last one was new to us, but easy to follow. They have a streamline media and sound set up with several men who trade off the responsibility of running it. There was a guest speaker giving the sermon, one who will be starting their next planted church in about six months--they are seriously devoted to church planting. Most of the men and women wore jeans. While we were being told that the girls near the age of the Princess were not there due to illness, she was out playing football with the boys as the parents indoors were wrangling the little children, who where all over the place!

My family sat together near the fireplace, which was turned off after the building was warm enough to be comfortable. We actually sat together. We sat and stood and worshiped together. I have not sat with my husband in church except maybe for one or two times for two and a half years. He has ran the media every since the our first pastor and her husband left. I felt just as strange standing next to my family singing. I felt out of place or as if I was forgetting something. I felt I should be holding a mic. I realized then that I will miss leading the praise and worship, but I also felt less stress.

We took communion, which was done differently than any other church I have ever been in. It was on a table near the middle of the sanctuary but next to the wall and we were invited to partake during the second praise and worship song. It was completely self-serve. I neither particularly disliked it or liked it; it was just different. I also notice there was no passing of the plate for tithes and offerings, which I have always thought was a tradition set up to shame people into giving instead of allowing people to give out of their love for the Lord and desire to serve. I am sure there was some place for the tithes, but it was not pointed out nor were we asked to give. I prefer this approach. (We tried placing plates at the back of the church once in another church and the giving decreased so they went back to the other way...I guess shaming works better for those who are used to it or expect it.)

Overall, Church #1 was quite enjoyable for us and we felt quite at home there. We like their commitment to planting churches and discipling in small groups during the week, although the pastor mentioned that they are weak in bringing in new members, which I can kind of understand with so many young families. All those children would be enough to keep the parents rather busy, if you ask me. Many of the families homeschool, but the pastor and his wife placed their children in public school this year as it was getting to be much with a toddler and five other children up to the age of fourteen. We did not meet her or their nine year old daughter as they were ill. The Princess wants to go back next week, of course, to meet the girls, but we would like to visit a few other churches as well.

Although this one is on our revisit list, I do not feel any leading to settle into any particular church or ministry right now and when I think about how I was feeling a bit out of my element just because I was not leading in the singing and my husband was not running the media and sound, I realize that we need this time to just visit and enjoy other believers and their ways of worship. I kept thinking today of how I will be spending time in heaven with these people, even though I will struggle to remember their names presently, and maybe that is why I felt so at home.

~ My Lord, thank you for the opportunity to meet a few more of my brothers and sisters. Please bless this church with its growth and planting new churches in commitment to reaching the unsaved. ~

7 comments:

  1. It sounds nice. Do they do anything special for the children?

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  2. It had a good atmosphere, although I sensed some reigning back with men only being in leadership, but I would expect that since I am coming out of a denomination where it is more about who is called than gender. I mentioned a few times to various people I had been the praise and worship leader in our last church and I did not get that "look," so it seems balanced in practice. The pastor does emphasize that men should be discipling their children as in having devotions with them at least a couple nights each week, which was not done in our last church--in fact, I doubted it was practiced by any family there with their own children (most now adults) at any time, except for us. The Princess and I do devotions most mornings because her father was usually not home most nights, but when he is, he spends time with her before she sleeps with talking, reading, and prayer.

    I really did not see what they do with the young ones, but it was mentioned to me that they recently split them into two classes instead of having just one as they had so many. At this time, the children outnumber the adults--such a change for us! I am sure we will be contacted and I will make inquiries then.

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  3. It can be so hard finding a new church. When we were trying to find the place the Lord wanted us many years ago, we visited several churches and we tried to go six weeks to each one. It turns out that a few churches we would never have considered ended up being possibilities because we didn't just go twice. Now I think we're in that place again (we've been in two churches in 31 years) but I'm not sure I have it in me to start over. I pray that you are led clearly and that wherever you end up, God is glorified and miracles you never dreamed of come to pass. God bless you and your family.... xxoo :)

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    1. Julie, I appreciate the advice and the prayers. We wish to revisit this church not to evaluate it, but to enjoy its unique style of worship along with these lovely believers again.

      We believe the church (or churches) in which we will next serve, God has already chosen. We only want to be where He wishes to plant us and seeking my Lord's heart on the matter is not in visiting churches to find one that fits our desires. We know He will make His will clearly known to us. This happened to us before and it was not a church we would have considered visiting at all!

      So, we do not see the need to search for a church and that is not what we are doing. At this time, we are simply enjoying worship with people in other churches until the time when God makes it known to us which one (or ones) He wishes for us to serve.

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  4. Hi again! I was not intending to give you advice - just sharing a tiny bit of our story, that's all. :) I know from my infrequent visits to your blog (met you through Ganeida) that you will be able to sense the Lord's leading. God bless your day... xxoo

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    1. Advice given with a loving heart is welcomed. God does use people to give His message to us as well.

      I thought it was difficult moving away from a great church as we had to do once, but leaving one that needed so much and still being local is even harder for me...I am just not really settled with it completely yet. God is giving us time, it seems.

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  5. That church sounds delightful, and I wish that we had one like that near me! Church hunting is exhausting, and not something I envy you doing. However when you find the right place it's just so peaceful! :)

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.