Sunday, August 8, 2010
One of my goals this summer was to find a new church for our family. We had been struggling to "fit in" and feel at home at our old church, but finding a new place to worship is a daunting task.
There were a few prerequisites that we listed:
* Close to home. (I drive enough going back and forth to work and school; I don't want to do it every Sunday, too).
* Great kids program. (I did not go to church as a kid. I want my kids to have every opportunity to have their spirits filled with the love of Christ that I never had).
* Money-conscious. (I don't want to belong to a church where you are constantly being asked to give, give more, give even more; times are tough, we have three kids and lots of bills, and we will give what we can. I don't want to feel guilty or less of a churchmember just because I can't give 10% of my paycheck every Sunday).
* A well-spoken pastor. (I want my soul to be fed on Sundays. I want to feel the presence of God in that church, and learn something about Him that I can use the rest of the week while I am "on my own". And I want the same for my kids and husband).
* No cliques. (This is a hard one to notice when you're new. If it's hard to break into a new group for you or your kids, then that church is not a place you want to be. If I wanted to be back in high school, I'd go there).
Like I said, a daunting quest. But one I was up for, with the goal being that we would either find a new church by the beginning of the school year, or would go back to our old one and start the search again at a later date.
We tried a couple of places recommended by friends. They were nice, but not "the one".
Then we stumbled upon the church that meets in our local YMCA, called Antioch. The pastor prayed before a 5K race Isabel and I ran in the spring, and I was impressed. Joe listened to a couple of his online podcasts, and he was impressed. It is five minutes from our house, has a great kids program and is full of young and old couples alike, along with a lot of single 20-somethings and a great variety of personalities. There is not a lot of emphasis on money (they don't even pass around an offering plate, just encourage you to place your offering in the "JOY" boxes in the back if you're able to give that day). They have no plans on building a big church with a basketball court/Jesus statues/etc; they want to the be the "church of the Y". When we have gone to the service, we felt included. We were fed by the words of the pastor, and our spirits lifted with the songs of the worship team. People were friendly but not pushy. We felt at home.
On Isabel's top 5 list of things we've done this summer, "going to church at Antioch" was right there next to our surprise trip to Florida. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?
For those of you lucky enough to be part of a church family that you love, that's great! For those who are struggling to find a church to belong to, keep praying and looking for the right one. And for those who were like me growing up, without a church or a desire to find one, keep an open mind. And if you feel that tap on your shoulder, it just may be the Lord knocking on your door, encouraging you to give it a try. And really, what do you have to lose?