Today, my family and I visited a church that was recommended to us by 2 people. I have been meeting some other young moms in the area. One of them told me it was a good church, the other one actually goes there. The mom who goes there said that she and her husband chose the church because it seemed like a good place to raise their daughter. That seemed like a good reason to me!
I checked out the website and it seemed fairly impressive. The upcoming VBS, fair, and children’s art day camps all looked exciting. I actually marked VBS and the fair on my calendar because I thought that this just might be the church for us. Young, happening, denominationally-correct.
The website listed two worship services. I decided that I would e-mail the church office asking which service was best for a young family. The response I got was welcoming and enthusiastic. They not only explained the services, but promoted the upcoming VBS. Awesome!
Well, we arrived at church this morning and parked in the back. The church had a backyard with a shelter house, picnic tables, and a playground. That looked promising! There were even children playing on the playground. We followed people into the church and found our way to the narthex. We were not greeted or directed until a lady looked at me and pointed at the toddler room. All she said was “Right here.” I said “Thank you!” We were warmly greeted in the toddler room by the teacher and also by the nice lady who had replied to my e-mail. The e-mailer offered to show us around the church after worship. The toddler room experience was a positive one except for the fact that there was absolutely no security or sign-in process. How could a church that advertised it self in such a family friendly way not have tighter security in the child care? Call us bad parents, but we left our kids in there anyways.
On to worship. I thought that the sanctuary and congregation would be much larger. No a/c and Chris had worn long pants, a long sleeved shirt and a tie. I felt so sorry for him, but he didn’t complain. The congregation had a mix of ages. From young families to “white hairs”, they were all represented. All looked good until the prelude started. Oh noooo, how could this young, hip looking gal sitting behind the organ play such boring elevator music? This was the point at which I became concerned for this church. The rest of the service reflected the prelude. Traditional outline or worship which lacked energy. I know that a traditional worship service can be energetic and inspirational, even without guitars and a praise band. Our church that we have just come from provided an awesome traditional worship experience every Sunday! I have to consider that there was a guest pastor today. However, the sermon wasn’t the bad part. I was able to directly apply his message to my life and he spoke with energy and enthusiasm. The sermon was the best part of the service. What was the worst part? The worst part was definitely when we were asked to raise our hands as first time visitors again. This is absolutely humiliating!!!!! We were brought gifts. Red gift bags including an information brochure, a pen with the church name, one of those plastic, squeezy coin holders with the church name, and a package of microwavable popcorn with the logo “Thanks for popping in!” I wanted to crawl under my pew and then keep crawling right on out the door.
When worship was over, we were greeted by some of the older ladies of the church, all of which said “We hope you come back next week.” We replied “Thank you.” The guest pastor was friendly and said he hoped we’d come back next week. We said “Thank you.” I found my mom friend as she came down from the balcony with her husband and baby girl. We chatted briefly and then parted ways. Lilly and David were safe and sound in the toddler room. From there, we headed right out the door and to the van.
Unfortunately, we did not find our church home today. On the way home, I thought “What exactly am I looking for in a church and why haven’t I found it?” Here is what I came up with: Basically, I want to find a church where Chris, the kids, and I can all experience and grow closer to God. We do not simply want to go to a church that has good children’s activities or welcoming greeters. I’d really love to find a church where the congregation and the worship leaders are obviously passionate about worship and overjoyed to share their church home with others. I’m tired of services that are made up of announcements, stand up, sit down, read this, sing this, sit and listen, shake a hand, go home. Tell me about God’s amazing work in your life. Tell me about God’s amazing work in this community and church! Help me find a quiet place of connection with God and a joyous place of praise to my Creator, shared with other dedicated believers. I want to make a connection with people and with God.
The search goes on.