Sunday, August 21, 2011

Church hunting

Looking for a church is never easy. The concept itself is a paradox - you go into a group of people you've never met and who are coming to worship God and learn from his Word and judge them based on what you see and hear. We are looking for a church, but not trying to judge them, but still find which one is right for us. It is a difficult task - there are some things we can easily look at - beliefs, mission of the church, ministry types which will tell us some important basics if we belong there or not. Then there are the trickier things. So you go into church and see people raising their hands during worship - great, they like to praise, but how does that translate into relationships with other people. It seems silly, but all these things go through the brain when evaluating a church.
But there are other things that are more telling about a church. Is the presence of God there? This is mostly something that can't been seen with the eyes or heard with the ears. But it is certainly essential in a church.

Let me get away from the concept and be specific. Last night we visited a church. I was really excited to go (despite the headache I had all day). Jerry brought this one up the day before and it seemed very promising to me. First, it has a Saturday night service, which is pretty much necessary for us since Jerry works Sunday mornings. Second, they believe in healing. We really want to see this happen. I have never regularly attended a church that believes in this to the point they have a healing center. That they actually see these things happen. I have fallen in the lukewarm middle of believing in something, but never seeing it. So I want to see it in person! Third, it is like 5 minutes away! We were considering driving 30-45 minutes to try out a church. This is much easier.

So what did I think? Pro's & Con's...
*I'll start with the con. I felt that the preacher was yelling at us. We was very blunt in what he had to say, and even the things that were kind, he seemed upset about. It was weird. I felt like I was getting a mixed message at times between the words and the tone of voice.
*Pro's - everything else.
**The worship was just that - worship. It wasn't the best team in skill, but not bad. I didn't know a lot of the songs, but that didn't keep me from talking with God.
**The pastor came up and greeted us before the service. That was nice.
**In the information they gave about the church to first-timers, it said they have mentoring ministries for both men and women. That got me excited, because we need mentors in our lives. It is great (& unique) when a church has a way to set up that kind of relationship and not just hope or expect that will happen in a small group setting.
**Okay, this is going to sound odd. There was a guy who came and sat in the front row (we were in the 3rd) just after worship started who clearly didn't fit into regular society in his appearance. Yet, like most people who I have observed like that, he seemed super friendly and oblivious that he was "different." The fact that this guy was there told me that this place was friendly and welcoming, because he wouldn't have been there if it wasn't.
**Lastly, and this is my favorite part... after the message, they have a time of worship and ministry, where they open up the front (there was a lot of space) for people to come up and pray and respond to whatever God is doing in their lives. He invited people up for healing, to accept Jesus, or whatever they needed. I was amazed at how quickly people poured up front. We went up as well and prayed individually. I sat there talking to God and felt like I was the only one there, with tears streaming down my cheeks.

So in conclusion. We both agreed that we will try it again. There are two senior pastors (who I believe are brothers) and maybe the other guy has a softer tone of voice. ;-) That time at the end was amazing. I love that they leave time for God to speak to our hearts and for us to respond. He said when they started doing that it changed the church, and I can imagine so. I hope we like this church enough to go regularly. I really want to find a church where I feel at home, and see this as a possibility.

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