The first test subject in the trial run has been vetted. For those of you who have may not know, I’m on a church hunt hoping to find my community of Christians. The church I visited was very different from my home church in many ways. For instance, it was 45 minutes away from me. Normally I probably wouldn’t have considered it because of the distance, but I have a friend who attends there. The 45 minutes is a slight problem, and here’s why: all of my life I have lived very close to my church. The whole dad-being-a-pastor thing equals living in the parsonage (that’s preacher’s home for you deacon’s kids) that the church provides. To give you a mental picture of the distance, it takes me approximately 50 steps to get from my parent’s back door to my Sunday school classroom. While the height of shoe heels does alter that number, it’s still a short distance that allows me more time to sleep and get ready. Therefore 45 minutes is quite the obstacle for me. Now that you know me better, let’s continue.
In uncharacteristic fashion, I made it to the church early for the early service. That will be much more impressive one day when I explain my sleeping habits. At any rate, this church is very large so I chose a seat off to the side in the middle. My thinking for seat selection went like this:
‘If I sit too close to the front one of the regulars will notice that I don’t normally sit here, marking me with ‘stranger target.’ That means I should sit in the middle of the clump of chairs. Man, I am such a strategist. I’d love to sit in the back, but if I sit too close to the back then people will know that I’m a newbie too … the middle for sure. Oh, there’s an aisle seat! Wait, what if they have communion? I don’t know how they take their communion. What if they do the whole-walk-up-to-the-front-as-a-line thing? Then I’d be the line leader! Not happening. I’m sitting in the middle seat of the middle row.’ *Picks up pace to casually power walk to chosen seat
This was the first five minutes. I wound up enjoying the service, once the stress of seat-picking was removed. There was one point where the kind worship leader bellowed, “Shake a hand!” Now for anyone who regularly attends this church, this is a wonderful time for them to high-five their besties and hug every member of their Sunday school class. For new people, this is a terrible time where they attempt to exude pleasant Christian pheromones while casually looking around for a thrown-out hand or direct stare that would hopefully result in an exchange of kind greetings. Naturally, the amount of trepidation I felt at hearing these words was sizable. However I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who approached me with genuine friendliness. That was the overall tone of the church—very friendly.
As I said earlier, I did enjoy the service. There were a few glitches, however, that have me continuing my search. A.) The worship. You know how you can tell when a church is struggling between moving away from traditional hymns and into a more contemporary worship style? That was pretty apparent at this church, which was disappointing. I really connect to God through music, so worship is a big deal for me. B.) Lack of ministry to my age group. This church was very servant-minded, but they completely missed my age group. I feel like I’m in the lost years sometimes because churches often don’t know what to do with people older than youth, but not new parents. C.) Distance. It’s just a little too far out to be practical.
Bottom line, it’s a great church but it’s not for me. And the search continues.