Finding a church can be difficult for any family. When you are a military family or a family that moves around a lot, it is even more difficult. You don’t have the familiar faces from home. You don’t have the recommendations from trusted family or friends, who know what your preferences are for a church.
Every church has their own traditions, their own ways of doing things, and their interpretations of the Bible.
Jason and I want a church that is not too big, but not small. We need a church that has good children programs and programs for Jason and I to get involved in as well.
The problems we are running into is that the bigger churches don’t feel….. welcoming. I feel like I am watching a concert or show. I don’t feel involved.
I like contemporary praise and worship, but when everything feels SO rehearsed, it does not feel genuine to me. I grew up in a church, if the worship leader was feeling like singing the chorus again, they did it. If they wanted to sing a song that wasn’t on the “list”, they did.
Recently, I read this blog post from Rachel Held Evans. Most of what she stated was what I’ve been trying to say for years.
It is one of the reasons we have only checked out a couple of churches here in Hawaii. All of them are larger, so it is hard to feel welcome. Our past experiences in North Carolina does not help matters. We did find a great church, it just took a while. But two experiences stand out to me, and still make me upset or weirded out.
The first was when we visited a church just down the road from our house. We got there, and everything felt so rehearsed, but I let it go. Then, I noticed the timer. The pastor told everyone to take a couple of minutes to greet everyone. And literally, two minutes was put on the clock. And everyone was sitting at the end of the two minutes. I told Jason I had to leave. It just felt too rehearsed, too practiced. Everything was a countdown.
The second experience was at a much bigger church. I was leery, but I figured what the heck? So we go there and everyone immediately asks me about taking Sweet Pea to the church nursery. It was literally “Hi, welcome to ______, would you like to take your baby to the nursery?” And my answer, was a big fat, NO. She was 9 months old, I was in a church where I knew NO ONE. Churches aren’t known for doing background checks on their nursery workers, so I did not feel comfortable with it. *
(*I worry more about this than the average mother, I am sure. BUT While Jason and I were dating, I went to his church. And his church was broken up because they had a KNOWN child molester in their congregation who had regular access to the children. The pastor and his wife were the only ones aware of his background, yet decided not to share it. To say that the parents were very upset was an understatement. This is why I don’t do church nurseries on my first visit. Call me paranoid, but I have to make sure they have background checks. )
So we go in this big church. Sweet Pea is literally the ONLY child in the church. Most people were giving us dirty looks. We felt very uncomfortable. (I grew up in churches where you kids stayed through the singing and other stuff, then when the pastor started preaching, we had children’s church.) They were having praise and worship, so it wasn’t like she would have disrupted anyone, unless she started screaming at the top of her lungs. Sweet Pea was a very quiet, very easily entertained baby, so the dirty looks baffled us. I prayed that she would start fussing so we would have an excuse to walk out the door. She did when the pastor came on stage, and we quickly left. Thankfully.
Big churches make me worry. I worry we won’t feel welcome or be able to get involved. I worry we are seen as just a number and not as people who want and need to go to church.
We are trying out a new church in the morning. I pray that it is a good fit. We need a home church. This church is in a school auditorium, and that will be a new one for us.
We’ll see how it goes, I’ve got butterflies. And if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to let me know.