Saturday, January 31, 2015

Church Quest | Part 2





I bounced along the road in my little yellow truck and asked myself what in the world I was doing. Why am I going to a strange church all alone? Do I really want to go sit and listen to some guy talk at me for an hour? Am I so desperate for community that I will purposely put myself into a situation that requires small talk with strangers?

Umm, yep.

As I was passing the post office I considered using it's parking lot to turn around and go back home to my comfy couch. No one would ever know. No one at the church expected me or needed me to fulfill a job or Sunday morning task. Why was I doing this to myself?

It is scary to go to a new church by yourself. Hey, it is scary to go to a new church even if you are NOT by yourself!

I have no agenda regarding church denomination at this point. I will go to any flavor of church if they love God and love people. I am doing this to myself because I want to live my life along side other people. I am not a loner. I am a grouper.

But this is hard.

There is a big sign at the entrance to the busy church parking lot…

VISITORS PLEASE TURN ON YOUR HAZARD LIGHTS”

What? You want me to stand out and be noticed before I even park my truck? Umm no thanks…I want to blend…I want to observe unobserved. Thank you very much.

It did take a while to figure out where I was supposed to park. Probably would have been helpful to turn on my lights and be directed to the visitor parking section nearest the front doors after all. Sigh.

The Greeter at the front door was warm and welcoming, handing me the Sunday Bulletin and opening the glass door for me. The entryway is pretty and I wanted to stop and read the huge wall mural that described the history of the church, but I moved on into the sanctuary where I heard music because I knew I was a little late for the service.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness just inside the double doors. Many churches keep the lights low during the musical worship portion of the service and I understand some of the reasoning, but now I am stuck near the door because I am not familiar enough with the building to find my way any farther in. (I don't like the dark sanctuary thing, but it's not a deal-breaker on this "blind" date....See what I did there? Hehe.) I ended up staying in a seat next to the entrance door because the place was packed, as far as I could tell.

I enjoyed the message and the personable pastor. My eyes were drawn to the clever backdrop behind the pastor. On a black wall they had placed white triangles and rectangles, all fitting together like a beautiful mosaic. In the center
was a space left without the white pieces, and it created the shape of a cross. I love the simplicity of such artwork.

It turns out that the name of their coffee shop is MOSAIC and diversity is one of the churches’ important values. According to the historic mural, this Texas church was one of the first to be integrated and refuse to reject anyone of any race to attend. The candid photos on their website were multi-ethnic and multi-generational, this is what made me want to visit. Many of the churches around me are all one color and that just feels creepy.

At the end of the service I exited the sanctuary and opened the door to a crowd of older ladies staring at me. I obviously must have looked a bit surprised to open the door to such a gang, because a voice from the group said, “We must be a pretty scary sight to face the first time!” I love that someone in the group had the great sense of humor enough to say that. I smiled back at them and got out of the way of others leaving the sanctuary behind me. (Being the church lifer that I am, I immediately recognized that this group must be the  Senior Women's Class that met during the first service.) 

This is the second church I have visited so far and I may go back. I could see myself here. The first church I visited a few weeks ago is a pretty place very close to my house and I’d been curious about it ever since we moved in. The pastor is a lively lady who won my heart immediately. But the congregation was …I don’t know…just so quiet and sad and old. Call me a hypocrite and shallow, but I am trolling churches for new friends. I know it is wrong to judge groups of people like this, but what else can I do? Set up interviews? Stand outside the churches with a sandwich board reading, “Please be my friend”?

I have so many thoughts and questions regarding church life... yay or nay. A Looong history of AVID church involvement has brought me to a brand new experience...choosing my new community. And even deciding that I do need one after all, is a crazy development in recent months. 

As I am reading over these first two posts about my church quest, I am a little concerned that you may think I am just clinically looking for a new club to join without regard to the spiritual aspect. I hasten to add that God and I are on this journey together. We talk often and intimately. I get the feeling that He is watching me with a smile and He is not at all worried that I will pick the wrong church. He goes where I go, and I go where He goes...so it's all good. 

I am thinking that next Sunday I may go see the storefront church that I talked about in Part 1 of this little adventure. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

Part 3 is HERE.


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11 comments:

  1. I love and support your venture to find a great church to match you. I think you may have found it, in this one you describe today. I joined a new church three years ago, and one tip I have for you is to quickly join a ladies' group at the church, to meet people more in depth. I joined a Bible study group recently that meets before church and it is a super way to form friendships. I applaud you in your quest, and your post made me smile.

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    1. I agree. Joining a small group is definitely the next way to know and be known. Thanks Terra!

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  2. LOL!!! The "turn on your hazard lights" would have had me in a speedy reverse mode! I applaud your bravery in continuing into the parking lot!
    Seriously, praying for you to find what you're looking for and what you need!!!

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    1. Ha! I know! it was so weird! All I can assume is that the flashing lights would help them direct the visitors to the easier parking section, but there were no parking lot directors out there anyway.

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  3. Having been on both sides of this quest, like you...Been the church "first lady" pastor's wife, welcoming the new faces and trying to make them feel wanted...and also being a visitor seeking a friendly face who would make me feel wanted...it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Even WITH someone with me. Praying for you in this quest. God is with you. He will guide you to HIS place of choice. Give Him time...and keep all options open.

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    1. Me too, both sides now. So very weird to be doing this at all actually. I thought I was done with church seriously. I still dislike and disagree with the whole set up of one person up there talking every sunday. But I need people and so there you go......

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  4. Oh, boy! Yup, you are in God's Humility Boot Camp. Been there, done that. I am so lacking in humility I get to repeat it often! lol I will say this, I strongly disliked the worship at a church we visited when we were church hunting...lol. HUNTING. And I could write some funny stories...no disrespect intended. BUT, I did not like the dark sanctuary BECAUSE it reminded me of rock concerts I went to in my youth...and it felt dark and loud. NOT for me. Give me the old Hymns, the Blood and musty Hymnals and day! God is faithful...I love you. Be open...to Him, His leading and His people, wherever you might find them Or they you.

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    1. Oy! I remember when the dark sanctuary thing stated and never did like it, too concerty and performancy...and I want to see and hear others singing along with me and the worship team. Lots of people don't sing along anymore, maybe because of the dark thing. I don't know.

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  5. Susie: Go with God in this venture. He will guide you to where He wants you to worship Him.

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  6. 1. You're braver than me.
    2. If I lived anywhere in a 50 mile radius of you, I'd join you in your hunt (and we could both troll together and debrief together).
    3. About that, I LOVE that you're trolling for friends. God knows you were made for them.
    4. What a circuitous journey you've taken to get to this place: where the organized church is where He intends you to be now
    5. From my couch (and my built-in excuse of Grampie care), I'll be praying for you on Sunday mornings. The perfect church isn't out there, but He's pulling you somewhere. I can hardly wait to hear where you land.

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    1. #4 It is by default I'm afraid. I do not know how else to meet people in a new town. Hanging around the library was beginning to look odd. Ha! I even found myself looking at women in Walmart and wondering if they could be my friend...but too shy to approach them. Oy!

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