Confession time…I should be at church. Okay, not at this very moment, but every Sunday, I should be at church. And lately, I haven’t, at least not consistently. I’ve spent the better part of my adult married life as an active member of a church, worshipping, serving, and being part of a church community. So what changed?
We moved. It was a good move, and I believe God had His hand in orchestrating our move. Too many pieces fell into place and too many prayers were answered for God not to have been involved in the decision to move.
When we moved from west coast to east, we left our church family of over 13 years. My husband and I dated, married and then started a family while being members of that church. So I understand my expectations may be a little high, maybe even a little romanticized about finding the right fit for us, but I never expected it to take years (three, and counting) to find the comfort level we desire.
One of the biggest differences is in finding a church that we all can agree on. Since my husband and I raised our children from birth at the west coast church, they never got a choice as to where went. It wasn’t that their opinion didn’t matter, but they didn’t know any different.
Now when we go to a church, it’s sort of like shopping with the 3 Bears. This one’s too small, this one’s too big…but we haven’t found “just right.” One kid likes the church, the other hates it. And though we are the parents and make the decisions, we want the best for our kids, which means that besides good solid Biblical teaching, we also want them to be excited to go to church, otherwise they won’t take it with them into their lives outside of church.
We seem to have run into so many different teaching methods too. There are two that stand out most, at least in our neck of the woods.
The first is the “Seeker Church.” These churches tend to be quite large and the message is a bit watered down, and geared towards growing the masses. The messages tend to be “topical” in nature. This is where a topic is chosen, (Friendship, or Marriage, for example) and then the Pastor finds scripture to back up his message, which is fine for a seeker church. You want people to find Christ and to feel welcome. I get that.
The other kind is what I’ll call a “Teaching Church”. This is where the Pastor teaches straight from the Bible, usually about a person or situation, and we apply what we learn to our own lives. It’s more like a Bible study format. It almost always applies, but it’s not always “user friendly,” and that’s okay. But it seems more Divinely directed than the alternative.
It also seems that just when we resolve ourselves to sticking to one church, something will happen that sets off our spiritual warning light, sending us back into caution mode, and wondering if it’s time to start the church search again.
The biggest lesson in all of this? Our paths are not always straight, usually for a reason, but God is always on the path with us…at least this I know is true. This is just a season, and I know God has a plan for us. Maybe the search is not about the church at all, maybe the search is about growing our faith.