Married to the Empire

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homeless

We have a beautiful new house in Oklahoma.  We're settling in and making our house a happy home.  And yet, in some ways we're still homeless. 

I'm talking about church. 

After being members of the same church for over a decade, it's been hard to pick up and try to find a new church home.  Nothing has been just right.  We want a mix of people passionate for God, active community service and missions emphasis, good music, solid teaching, and friendly, welcoming arms. 

If churches are living out their faith actively, that shouldn't be a tall order.  And yet, we're finding that it is. 

One church would have been perfect for us.  It pretty much fit the bill, except we couldn't come to terms with their style of worship.  The word style isn't quite right here, but I'm not sure what else to use.  We're lifelong Baptists, and this was a pentecostal church.  Long story how we ended up there, but it's really a great church.  We just couldn't get comfortable with people speaking in tongues (without an interpreter, as the bible says there should be) and practically having seizures in the front of the church, then falling over backwards.  I'm sure those folks are quite sincere in their faith, but I just don't understand it. 

Another church had a fantastic Sunday school and friendly people, but the church service was dead.  Absolutely dead.  Even their kids' VBS presentation lacked any energy.  I had the impression that the Spirit wasn't there, and this church would not be a partner to us in cultivating a love for the Lord in our son. 

Yet another church had a friendly, family feel to it.  We liked that.  The pastor obviously shepherds his congregation and has a true heart for the Lord.  But the Sunday school class that best fit our needs was just awful.  The teacher doesn't have the gift of teaching, unfortunately, and the whole class was checked out.  The music was dreadful.  I was passionately involved in the music ministry in our church in Texas, and I just couldn't see getting involved in this one.  I tried to overlook it, but I just can't. 

While I think we've found our church, we're still not certain.  Music is amazing, teaching is not just good, but intellectual (that's becoming more and more unusual these days), the nursery is great for Alex, they're actively involved in the community and missions, but... the only people who talk to us when we go there are Steven's coworkers and our neighbors.  They have no Sunday morning classes to get to know people, so we'll have to join a small group before we really get a feel for whether or not this is the place for us.  Except, small groups shut down for the summer.  *sigh*  I know that churches have trouble keeping stuff staffed when folks are on vacation, and leaders need a break once in a while, but I do wish churches would see what a bind this puts visitors in. 

I've been sick, so I stayed home with Alex on Sunday morning.  When Steven got home, I asked about church.  He said the service was good.  But when I asked if anyone talked to him, he said that only folks he spoke to first talked to him.  Ouch.  There's something very wrong with that picture. 

More and more, I'm realizing that the verses in the bible about hospitality aren't simply referring to offering food or a place to stay or otherwise opening one's home.  Church is also home, so Christians should be welcoming strangers into that house, too.  If you see visitors at your church on Sunday, please talk to them.  Make them feel welcomed.  Chances are, your church isn't the first they've visited, and they're growing weary of the search.  I know that most folks are probably not meaning to be unwelcoming; they're absorbed in their own lives and just not thinking.  I've been guilty of that myself in my own church back home.  But being on the other side has really opened my eyes.  I can't help but wonder how many folks have entered a church seeking God and have turned away simply because they weren't made to feel welcomed. 


Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have show hospitality to angels without knowing it.  (Hebrews 13:1-2)

5 comments:

ashley said...

I can totally relate. I find church shopping really, really hard. Because we moved around so much as a kid, there were times that my family just didn't go to church for months at a time because we just couldn't find one. Paul and I were fortunate to find one fairly quickly this past time we left our church, but when I moved to Atlanta I settled in a church that wasn't really everything I wanted in a church because it was just so hard to keep putting myself out there.

Sue said...

I can totally understand (having recently left my church of 14 years due to a move). Leaving your church family after so many years is really hard...and looking for a new church is so difficult - how can a bunch of strangers compare to the community of your family?
It sounds like there are some great things about this church, though! And although it probably won't happen immediately, the problem issue is something that can change (you can even be part of the change!). I totally agree that the visitor should not have to be the one to make the first move...unfortunately churches are full of sinners who do stupid things...like not welcoming newcomers. :-)
Praying that you'll find your church home soon!

*carrie* said...

Been there!

Your story also reminded me of when we moved into this new house/neighborhood, and I was feeling frustrated that no one was coming over to introduce themselves. Though it wasn't what I wanted to hear at the time, Eric suggested we host an ice cream social and invite them all over. We just had our 5th annual social last month, and people love it!

We are initiating types, but a lot of people aren't. It's something I have to continually work through.

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