Well, first of all, I am so sorry that I haven't yet blogged on our church visit from 2 Sundays ago. I am beginning to feel a little sick of this whole process and didn't want to think about it. I still feel that way, but am sharing with you anyways. After discussions with my mom, maybe some of what I have to say can be beneficial to someone.
Ok, here goes.
June 28, 2009 Church Visit
Chris and I decided that we wanted to go to the beach, so he found a UMC that was on the way. It was one that I had been wanting to check out. The website looked fantastic. They got an A+ in theology. They promised to be welcoming to visitors and to people of all different lifestyles. Let's go! Well, they did seem very friendly. On the way into the church, a man about 40 years older than us stopped us and said "I don't think I have met you! What are your names?" We introduced ourselves and said that we are new to the area. He said that he is new to the church and still meeting people. This explains to me why he was friendly. People who have recently been new to a church seem to know what it's like to be new! Of course! When we walked in the doors, there was a family with 2 teenagers standing there as greeters. The man who initially greeted us introduced us to the family and explained that we are new to the area. They were very nice.
We found the nursery and dropped off the kids. The church had a pager system for the kids which I thought was great. The kids were happy to go play. On to the sanctuary!
As we headed for the sanctuary, I walked past and looked in the eye of a woman who was obviously the pastor. She didn't acknowledge me. I thought that was very strange and it actually ticked me off. (I forgot to not be judgemental) The doors we had gone in took us in the front of the sanctuary. That was a little frightening, but I got over it and we found our seats. Very pretty sanctuary-it looked Presbyterian with it's clear windows and white paint. We got comfortable and guess who came to sit right next to us!! The greeter family!! The wife sat next to me. I thought that if this wasn't intentional, then it should be! (Churches could have a family designated to welcome new families. They then find the family and sit with them. Then, if wife is on the end, then the greeter wife sits by her. If husband is on the end, then greeter husband sits by him. Or, whatever the genders might be.) Anyways, the wife was very friendly and chatted with me here and there. The service was traditional and the pastor was boring. Sorry, but she was. It was United Methodist Women recognition Sunday. Wooohooooo!!! The pastor said that the UMW do the hardest work and she also referred to them as WhiteHairs, which I thought was offensive. Also offensive was when she said something like "I know that you all make fun of those white hairs in the basement, but they do important work." Okaaay? When I found out this pastor was a guest pastor (this explains why she didn't greet me-don't judge!), I thought that her words were even more offensive. I felt bad for the whitehairs as well as the other ministries that were being compared to them. She talked about the bad girls of the Bible without mentioning the book and said that the UMW are those girls. In her closing words she told us all to be bad girls, even the men. Chris and I thought that was really funny. Oh, and by the way, he fell asleep again.
It is hard to judge a church when the pastor is a guest, but we felt like this was not the church for us for a couple of reasons. There didn't seem to be any type of alternative worship styles. This is important to us so that Chris, and occasionally I, can have a way to express ourselves musically in worship in contemporary ways. Also, the congregation seemed to be a couple of decades ahead of us in life. The population of 20-30 somethings was not impressive.
The greeter wife was sure to get me a gift that they give all guests. I thought that was nice. A brown paper gift bag decorated by children had lots of church info as well as microwavable popcorn, a chip clip and a water bottle, all with the church logo on them. We used the water bottle at the beach because we forgot beach toys.
Ok, so on to July 5, 2009!
I am writing in brown because that seems to be an appropriate color for the blandness of this experience. blah blah blah blah blah blah blah!!!! It was just depressing. This church was recommended to us by 2 people. I think maybe it has taken a down turn. I am absolutely not kidding you when I say that it felt like I was in a chapel service at a retirement home. I don't know if I should say anything else. Oh wait, I should. This was the WORST-they asked if there were any first time visitors and told us to raise our hands. OH MY GOSH! We raised our hands and they gave us Bibles as if we were pagans. Maybe not their intended message, but it's how we felt. It was so embarrasing. I don't want to say anything else. We are not going back there.
So, Chris and I are feeling defeated in the church hunt. We both really liked the church where we got hugs from Robbie, but it is 20-30 minutes away. We will visit there again to see if we actually like it, for real. Like, enough for it to be worth the drive 1-2 times a week. But, we plan to start visiting some churches out of our home denomination in a week or 2. This is sad to me.
I may email the local District Superintendent's office and see if they have an recommendations. We'll see.
Oh, also, 2 weekends ago, I finally felt what it was like to not be connected to a church and to just not want to go anywhere. It would be very easy to fall out of the habit of church in a situation like ours. I understand better what it is like for other people. This is tough, but we will keep with it.