Today we visited a church that’s closer to our new house. It’s a bilingual (Spanish & English) daughter church of the church we go to currently, and it’s a bit closer to us. They’re only a little over a year old, so the church is still pretty small (there were 30-40 people there). We were warmly welcomed, though, and really enjoyed our morning worship!
I have been wanting to check out this church for a long time, and finally today all the stars aligned so we were able to get there in time.
We aren’t sure we want to switch churches, though. I think we’re both a bit conflicted about it, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sort through my thoughts by writing about it. We both really like our current church. It’s really big, so there are a lot of opportunities to minister and be ministered to. There are groups of almost any “season of life” (we go to the “young families” group right now). The worship and teaching are excellent. We feel encouraged, refreshed, and challenged there.
What’s the problem then? Well, our church is nestled in the suburbs of metro Atlanta. Now that we’ve moved, it’s about 30 minutes away, which makes for a far drive to get involved. And, since a lot of people live that far away going in the opposite direction, I’ve found that getting to know others outside of church is often easier said than done.
Another big thing is that most of the people who attend are upper-middle to upper class. This isn’t a criticism – I think they are genuine people who love God. However, it’s not really the socioeconomic level where we are right now. We notice a disconnect between our values and priorities, and those of the people we’ve befriended. I don’t mean that they are wrong, just different than ours. Sometimes we struggle to find ways to relate to people.
I feel like we try really hard to foster the relationships with other couples in our Sunday School class. The one exception is we’re not very good about getting up and going to the class on Sunday mornings. But, every time they have an event outside of class and we are free we try to go. Even if it’s a football game! :-) I guess I just feel that we try really hard. And even after almost 3 years we are still trying really hard. I miss feeling comfortable with people. (There are a few people we’re comfortable with and we definitely appreciate those friendships!)
I’ve been wondering what we’re doing wrong, if it’s us or if it’s them. Or if it’s just not the right place for us. Why does it seem to be impossible to make good friends after college?
So with all these thoughts in mind, we visited this other church today. The first thing we noticed is that people had heard of where we live! At our church, partly because we live so far away, and partly because we live on the “other side of the tracks”, a lot of people ask “Where is that?” when we tell then the name of our city. Not only had people at this church had heard of it, but we even met another couple who live in the same neighborhood as us! They were also both missionary kids who went to a small Christian college and we had several mutual friends. (Including your hubby, Beth!) It was fun to meet someone who lives so close.
There are other things we liked about this church, and that’s namely the size. I probably prefer a slightly larger church, but I understand that they are new and growing. There is just something more comfortable to me that I just don’t get in a big church. (Our current church is 3 or 4,000 members.) I like knowing everyone, being involved in the workings of the church, and having a place where I’m needed. It’s so easy to disappear in a big church.
One huge negative about the church we visited today is that they don’t have any sort of nursery. Savannah is a good baby, but she *loves* to talk and babble so when she’s in the service I pretty much get nothing out of the sermon. Now, there are 3 pregnant women in the church right now so I have a feeling the lack of nursery might change in the future. :-) But I do like the nursery at our current church.
When we became members of our current church, our pastor challenged us to be committed to the church. He discouraged church hopping every few years, but rather trying to stay and work through problems or issues. (He likened it to marriage in this respect.) We went to our first church 2 years and then we’ve been at our current church for 3 years. Are we going to treat churches like we’ve treated places of living? Moving every year or two just because we are bored or dissatisfied? I would rather not – I really want our kids to grow up in one church, if possible.
But, I feel like things have changed in our hearts and lives in the past few years. Once I craved the suburban lifestyle that so many in our church have. But now, I’m content with our neighborhood and (the potential of) our 50-year-old fixer-upper house. We live much farther away from our church now, and I wish I knew more people on our side of town. (Especially for things like home Bible studies!) Since we own our house we are committed to this area and fostering community here. This new church is a place where I’d feel comfortable bringing our neighbors, especially because it’s bilingual.
Anyways that’s what is on my mind. I am not sure where God is leading us right now. I’ll let you know what we end up doing. :-)