I have good news for you, my curious, blog reading, friends!! I don't even know where to start or what to say! I guess I'll start at the beginning of it all!
Between our house and the first store that Chris opened up here is a church. It doesn't look like a church. The sign out front is modern and eye-catching, but the building is not a typical church building, it's rather bland and well....not very exciting. I thought it looked interesting, but I didn't have any desire to visit.
After visiting a lot of churches that, on the outside, looked like churches that I would want to be a part of, I decided to see what Chris thought of this church that looked different. We were both up for a change. What we thought we wanted and would work for our family, was not working. Let's do it.
When we showed up, there were 5 vehicles in the lot. That scared me a little because I knew we would be singled out. I was dreading being asked to raise my hand during announcements so that I could feel like an outsider and an intruder. I wasn't scared for very long.
On the way in, a couple was going in at the same time. They knew we were visitors and warmly welcomed us. The greeter at the door warmly welcomed us and told us about where to go and a little of what to expect.
We walked in and was intrigued. It was a basic room with rectangle tables that had chairs behind them facing the altar area and podium. On each table was a long sheet of white paper for doodling, or whatever. There was a black binder with church info, an attendance sheet, offering envelopes, and sticky name tags. There was a small bin with colored pencils, play doh, crayons, paper, pen, denominational info, and maybe some other stuff. There were also 3 Bibles in a stack. 2 regular NIV's and 1 Adventure Bible for children. We were welcomed warmly by everyone we came in contact with! "Hi, is this your first time here? Please, make yourselves at home! Your kids are so cute! What are your names? Here, choose a table! You and your kids are welcome to use anything on the table during the service. Oh, and help yourselves at any time to the snacks and drinks at the back table." This is just a sampling of the helpfulness that these people offered. People told us about the service, about the kids' program, about their various activities, about....well, all kinds of stuff! The mom behind us offered to show me the kid's classroom and to take them there.
Can you tell that I was impressed?
The pastor was young, funny, friendly, and welcoming. He told me that the kids could stay in the service. He said that they encourage families to worship together. I like it. My kids loved worship. There was a time for teaching that split us up from the kids. This was not the message. It was kind of like Sunday School in the middle of worship. The children's rooms were the most impressive that I have ever seen in a church-and this was in a building that is anything but impressive from the outside.
During the service, the pastor was very clear about what was coming next, where to find things, what the black binder was for, where the bathrooms were, etc, etc. He even said that the Bibles were there to use if we needed them and to take one home if we wanted to. He did this from the podium and did it in a way that would make anyone feel comfortable. He never said "I see we have some first time guests! Please stand up so that we can stare at you. By the way, since you are not Christians, that book in front of you is a Bible and we'll be saying the Lord's Prayer. That's L-O-R-D...." Just kidding. The previous churches were never that bad, but they might as well have been.
Chris and I loved the service. We honestly don't have any complaints! He was so worried that I wouldn't agree theologically with the pastor's message and that I wouldn't want to return to the church. But, this church, even though it is non-traditional, is a part of a denomination that I respect. I would like to learn more about the denomination this week and try the church out again next week.
The hospitality at this church was above and beyond anything I could expect. After worship we were invited by several people to attend their family event this coming Friday. I actually really want to go! I hope that we can. I want to spend more time fellowshipping with these people who treated me like a friend.
Now, I suppose it's time for us to get to know this church better. Let the journey begin!