I’m torn...about church.
I'm torn...about church. I've gone to church my entire life. I'm not one who can boast that I've never missed a Sunday or is always there whenever the doors are open, but church has always been a part of my life. A couple of years ago, I found MY church. The place where I felt both the music and the sermon speak to me. The place where I felt welcomed by people of all ages. It was an unfamiliar feeling to want to be involved in every way that was offered. To crave more. To WANT to grow more. I had been involved in other churches (growing up, I went to 11 consecutive years of church camp and the memories made there will be with me forever). I attended bible studies and Sunday schools, but this church was my jam (and let me make VERY CLEAR this is of no fault to any other church or member; this was a personal growth moment for me. Personal).
Fast forward to present. Because of changes in our location, it is no longer feasible for us to attend the church I felt most at home, so we began the daunting task of finding a new church home. Here's where I'm torn...about church. In the new town we transplant ourselves to each weekend, there are ALOT of churches. What there doesn't seem to be a lot of is young families. This is something that is really important in our book because not only do I need the accountability to stay focused, but we want the same for our kids. So, we tried church after church and then we finally landed on the one we are currently attending, but I'm a little torn.
We've attended this church, somewhat regularly (until recently when opted to avoid putting our kids in any form of zest pool in hopes of avoiding a very nasty flu). We'd checked out of church service for about a month to avoid the plague.
The first time we checked in, I basically could have sat with my arms crossed and a three year old's pout on my lips. The music was FAR tooo loud for this traditional service lover (Churchtastic as the husband labeled it). But then, the pastor took the stage and I slowly uncrossed my arms and wiped that frown off my face. It wasn't so bad. It was pretty good. Really good. I wanted to come back. So we did. Again. And again. But, after the first Sunday we attended we noticed something...different. Something we'd certainly never experienced before. Absolutely not one single person (not the pastor or the neighbor to the chair next to us) welcomed us. No one single person said, "Hey, I haven't seen you here before, I'm xxx." Each Sunday we arrived. We left. Our hands unscathed of germs.
I'll admit at first this was somewhat refreshing. I've never gone out of my way (or out of my pew, rather) to shake hands during the meet and greet minute. I always stayed planted and shook hands with those within my reach. One church we visited actually asked you to form small handheld circles, with those around you, and take turns saying a prayer within your circle, in lieu of a simple handshake. So very completely uncomfortable to a new person, Church. If you're thinking of starting a church, please don't add this to your itinerary. So what, someone didn't corner us at this new place? How nice, right? But, after a month? Since September? It was just a bit odd. Didn't they care that we were there? We're the lights so low that they missed us entirely? Did they recognize us from weeks prior? They had volunteers for coffee and juice, and a childcare system that was as legit as Fort Knox, but no greeters? No visitors cards? Would we ever meet our peers?
Here's what happened recently that has me torn...about church. When we first landed at this establishment last fall we asked about small groups. This would be our chance to meet new people right? I'd loved small groups at our former home and met some amazing people through the experience. I'd hoped to have the same happen at our new place. The info desk volunteer explained they had groups, but they didn't meet until February. So, each time we attended we went about our routine and each time we left feeling both moved by the sermon and let down that we still didn't know anyone. Until today. It's February and small group sign ups were completed with a church wide dinner. We approached the sign up desk, gave our names, answered a few questions, and were ushered to a table. I'll admit I felt a little bummed as we approached our table and saw that we'd been placed with a group, that from appearances, we had nothing in common with (not our age group). Before I'd so much as pulled out a chair to sit, we were greeted with a most awkward situation. A man shook our hand (there's a first) and proceeded to literally pout and huff and ask us repeatedly, "Who placed you in this group? This group? Are you sure they meant this one?" 😳 I mean, should we move somewhere else?!? Before I could ask, the guy disappeared. We later saw him sitting at a different table. Had we peeved him so much by sitting at his exclusive table, that he couldn't bear to sit with us? We spent an hour and a half at this meeting and left without a small group to participate in and no further leads on meeting new people.
So, now what? We really do enjoy the service, but is this a dead end? I'm pretty perplexed by this conundrum. Do I continue to go knowing that we will likely never be included? Do I contact someone about this situation? Would they give a rip or are they just interested in a headcount? Is this where I will find success as a Christian? As a Christian parent? Am I putting too much of my own Christian responsibility in the hands of someone else? Do I learn something each week? Yes! Do I feel uplifted and moved each week? Yes. Do I want to be involved? Yes! What should be most important here? Has anyone else ever experienced something like this? I'd love to hear your input.
*I'm sure that it is unlikely someone will pinpoint this as being about their church as it is not in WP (or close). I hope not, but in case you do peg this as a place you know, please message me. I'd love to hear where I've missed the boat. I've read the online reviews of this establishment and they all boast how friendly their church is. What have I missed?