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)