Sunday, May 31, 2009

church visit #2

Ok, friends. Today I have no problem, whatsoever, saying that I was dissapointed by our church visit.
This morning, as I was getting ready, I had extremely high hopes. Maybe that's where the problem started. The website didn't excite me, actually, the website was terrible, but at least they have a website. But, the church was absolutely beautiful. I had driven by a couple of weeks ago. It is a beautiful old downtown building. So, I had high expectations since I come from a beautiful old downtown church. I thought "this could be the one!!" "we may not have to search after this!" Hahahahahahaha.
Where do I start?? I don't know. This will be all over the place, my writing style is so unorganized, I know, but I just want to get it all out there to ya without worrying about it. I'm sorry.
I guess I'll start at the beginning! We found our way into the building-success! We found the sanctuary-double success! We stood there at the entrance to the sanctuary looking for someone to tell us where the childcare was. Hmmm...other people were going in. We waited. Then, I young man with a nametage walked by. This was our guy! I said, "Hi. Can you tell us where the childcare is? This is our first Sunday here." He said yes and led us to the room. (He did not ask our names, where we're from, what brought us to the church, how old our kids are, etc.-for Pete's sake!) So, we went to a room where a boy was playing by himself. Greeter had to go find boy's mom who was doing something else. Crap. We checked in the kids and they gave us a buzzer. This made me feel better. Lilly did not cry, this made me feel even better.
Chris and I went in the sanctuary. I felt invisible. But how could I be? We had to be the youngest couple there and the place was not packed. We had to be very very obvious, but no one seemed to care. The sanctuary was beautiful. Stained glass all around, intricate woodwork, etc. The congregation was old.
We sat down behind 3 middle school girls, that seemed like a good spot for us. Along came a woman who looked about our age to sit with the girls. The youth pastor, a mother? I was excited to meet her!! Unfortunately, all I got was a handshake and a glance during greeting time (which was very uncomfortable. I hate greeting time.)
I checked out the bulletin. It was Pentecost (of course), as well as graduate and acolyte recognition. 8 high school graduates and a forever long list of acolytes. That was good, I thought.
As for the service, I don't know what to say except boooooooooooring. I shouldn't be harsh or cruel or judgemental, but I really wanna be. I really want to go talk to the pastor and tell him how frustrated the service made me. At one point in the sermon he mentioned the fact that the UMC's are closing. I should have stood up and said "You know why UMC's are closing? Because of services like this!" I know, that's a terrible thing to think and to even mention in my blog, but it feels so true.
Chris was sleeping. It was Pentecost, for Pete's sake! Who falls asleep in a Pentecost service?! How did I find the scripture reading boring when it was about tongues of fire?! Ok, that's enough of that.
We greeted the pastor after worship. "Thank you for joining us this morning." That's it from him.
So, we went looking for our kids. They had been given popsicles. My thought: Did I fill out an allergy form? Thankfully, my children do not have food allergies, but David is sensitive to red dye #40. It's not severe, but I thought of the mom who might be taking her child on a long car ride after church or something like that who's child was even the teensiest amount more sensitive to #40 than David. I would be ticked if I was her!! I assume that parents who have children with severe food allergies always notify care takers of the dangers, but still. These people did not know us at all. They had my kids for about 1 hour. Note to churches out there: keep a list of food allergies of the kids who are in your care.
So, that's about it.
A couple of notes about the experience from Chris:
-the announcements prior to the service given by the pastor made him resemble Ned Flanders (from The Simpsons). I think Ned Flanders has way more charisma.
-the (assumed) retired pastor reading the scriptures reminded Chris of Mr. Burns (The Simpsons). I think Mr. Burns is much more interesting.
-Chris was terrified that I was going to love the service and we would end up in a dissagreement.

I should say that I'm sure that the pastor's intentions are good, as are the intentions of everyone in the church. I hope. It was just so dissapointing, as a young United Methodist, to have this experience.
The previous church we visited was hopping with excitement and young families. But, I don't agree with the teachings. This church had good teachings but was a big yawn fest. I'm not looking to be entertained. I'm looking for an enriching environment for my family where we can grow closer to Jesus. We need friends. Where are they?
I told Chris that we should start our own church. He said no. I guess that's no way to make friends.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Judge not lest ye be judged...

Hello friends. It has been a few weeks since my last post. Typical.
I've decided to begin reviewing the churches that my family visits in the area west of Cleveland. People keep asking me about our church hunt and I have found myself describing our first church visit over and over again. So, from now on the description and review will be able to be found here on my blog. For church name and location, please email me. I've decided to leave that info out for the sake of some of the congregations. Like the title of this blog? I thought it was right for the start of my church reviews. I want for all to know that this is not a chance for me to judge whether or not a church is a good one or a bad one, but what I see as the pros and cons of each church.
Some major things I am looking for are:
How visitor friendly is this church?
How does the church compare with how it's website describes it?
What did the theological standpoints appear to be?
What is the children's ministry like?
What is the young adult's ministry like?
I'm sure that I won't always answer each question and that there will be other things observed. Enjoy.

Several weeks ago, Chris, Bobbi, David, Lilly, and I set out for our first church visit. Chris searched around online on Saturday night and found one that looked interesting. The website made it look exciting and young. One review called it a mega-church. We thought it would be fun to see what this was all about. The website assured us that we would be greeted by a welcome team and made to feel very comfortable in the church.
We decided to arrive early so that we could check things out. Good thing we did!!! We drove around the church looking for the correct entrance to go in. (We weren't sure, so we just picked a door and went for it.) We ended up going in the right way, but there was no one there to greet us. We were looking for the children's area. We looked at maps, tried to follow families, peered into rooms, walked in circles, and finally found it. As we were walking around looking completely lost and confused, no one offered to help us. Anyways, the children's wing was completely secured by a counter with a person working at it. We had to fill out detailed paperwork for both kids and were given security tags. The tag had a number on it so that if we were needed during the service, the child's number would pop up on the screen and we could go get them. Thankfully their numbers didn't pop up. :) I appreciated the tight security and was pleased with the amount of children's classes and the friendly teachers.
The worship service. It was a pretty basic contemporary style. We started out with singing several praise songs. Surprisingly, I only knew one of them. Chris knew more because they play on his satellite radio station. The band was decent. I thought they needed a female voice in their all-male show. There was an offering and then a message, then more singing. The pastor gave the message and he was a dynamic speaker. I enjoyed listening to him. Halfway through the sermon, he played a canned song while a slideshow played on the screens. I liked that.
The man who gave announcements invited visitors to an open house in a back room. We thought we should go. First, we picked up the kiddos who had a blast in their classes, then went looking for the open house room. We couldn't find it. This time, we asked for help and someone directed us in the right way. When we found it, there were 2 visitors talking to someone and then the visitors left. We went in to the small parlor-looking room and a nice man welcomed us and introduced himself. He gave us little visitor bags with church info, coupons, and bottled water. We had a nice chat with him and then one of the pastors came in to greet us. He was young and very nice.
So, from the website and observation, I don't think that there are any women on the pastoral staff. The message seemed highly evangelical. I have heard rumor, which may or may not be true that the the school attached to the church has been exclusive in the type of people it takes. But, haven't most churches/schools at one time been exclusive?
I would not have called it a mega-church. It was much smaller than other mega-churches I have visited, but it had the same type of set-up.
I didn't agree with everything that was preached, but that didn't bother me. I'm used to it. The hardest part of the morning was when the service started and people started singing and I looked around and missed my home.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Fun

Hello friends! The kids and I are having a good Friday. We spent some time watching our newly installed cable, and then headed out for some yard sales! There were around 10 just in our neighborhood. It was nice to see more of the neighborhood, but I didn't get the chance to make any new connections with people. One lady had some cool cd's for sale: Mellisa Ethridge, Alanis Morrisette, Rusted I bought a couple. I asked if they had been hers and she said yes, and I told her that I liked that kind of music. That was it. I didn't really talk to anyone else. No new friends yet. :( We did find some good deals as we went bargain hunting. Lilly got a Littlest Pet Shop hamster with a wheel, a new shirt (3T for Fall), and a talking Barney (greeeat). David got accessories for the Aquadoodle and another mat. (That's really for both of them. 2 mats=less fighting.) I got 2 cd's. Total cost: $2.75. Pretty good, right?
It's overcast here today with random rain. Not too cold, though, so that's good. Kiddos are napping now while I do laundry, clean, mess around on the computer, watch "Days." I found a site that I'm pretty excited about. It's called Maybe the kids and I will find some friends there or maybe some referrals to churches, doctors, parks, etc. I was able to join a group for Lorain Co. Moms and Stay at Home moms.
I feel like the kids and I are adjusting pretty well to our new life. I absolutely love being with them full-time. I think they like it, too. They are playing together really well (most of the time). It is surprising to me how they have become such great play mates. I am glad that they have each other. I haven't had any trouble keeping up with household things yet, but I do have trouble keeping the kids in line from time to time. I guess I need to remind myself that I am working with pre-schoolers, not teenagers. I know that teenagers don't always reason well, but I can tell you that they reason much better than my little kiddos. I'm finding it's all about communication, though, and I'm trying to find the best ways to communicate.
David has been practicing baseball almost everyday. He is getting better and better. He has been able to hit the ball with the bat when it's thrown to him since he turned 2. If I might boast, I think that that is very impressive! Especially since Lilly can't even swing the bat. (We are teaching her to bunt. :) I am hoping to get David into summer T-ball, if the lady would call me back. He really wants to play.
Lilly is really really funny. She's a big eater and loves to say "I don't wanna go to bed, I wanna play!" She says it all day long. As soon as she wakes up in the morning and from nap, she asks for her Daddy. Sometimes she asks for Grandma's and Grandpa, too. Lilly likes to blow bubbles in the yard while David and Daddy play baseball.
We're hoping to have the pool opened soon. We're definitely looking forward to warm days in the water. :)

That's all for now. Keep in touch. Much love.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hello there!

Hello! Welcome! This will be short and sweet. I knew I had to have something here in case someone actually checked my new blog. I hope to use this as a way for anyone and everyone (minus crazies, check with me if you think you might be crazy) to keep up with the sweet life of the Burns family. We're starting to get comfortable in our new life in Elyria. I'll be back sometime soon to fill you in on all of the fun. Of course, we are missing our amazing friends and family in the Lima area, but we're looking forward to visiting in about a week.
Check back often. Much love.