Sunday, May 18, 2014

Church Shopping

I truly thought our family would have a church community by now. I want it so bad and it's been so heavy on my heart. For me, church is not something I do. I'm not looking to fulfill a to-do list each week. I want to be a part of something. I am longing for consistent community in a city of transient musicians. I not only want it, I need it. Liam needs it, too.

Since there are so many churches in this city Daniel and I decided, before we got here, that we'd try 6 churches and then pick one. Being from the NW, the most un-churched region of the USA, I am overwhelmed by all the choices out here in the Bible Belt. We had a short list of "must-haves". The first thing was peers and a program for Liam. The second was friendliness. With friendliness I wanted an ease of getting plugged in. I've been-to/ seen/ heard-of too many churches with a small group waiting list and no need for volunteers. There were other desires but these are truly "must-haves".

Of the 8 churches (not 6!) I've been to in Nashville, sometimes it just didn't feel right. Most of the time it was the nursery. In my experience church shopping, the nursery greeter was, in all cases but one, stressed out, uninterested, unengaged, or insensitive. I even heard a nursery greeter complain that the workers didn't show up and forced her teenage daughter to stay with the kids. My kid. At one church Liam was the only kid in his class so some woman had to sit there with him for 2+ hours - which I didnt think was fair. Then there's the fact that no one would talk to me. Sometimes I tried really, really hard to be friendly. Other times, like today, I wore all black and kept my head down, perhaps trying to be unapproachable. As a test? I'm not sure. It didn't work. Good for you, "Brittany"! I really liked you but your nursery-checker-inner ruined it for me.

It's not a denominational thing, the size, location or socioeconomic status of its members that have made me cross a church off my list. It's people. Church is made up of people and people are flawed and we all so desperately need Jesus.

We had many recommendations and every church I've tried has come with a stamp of approval from a friend or acquaintance. How do you tell someone you didn't like their church? It's like telling them you don't like their family. We continue to get recommendation after recommendation and I am, to be honest, overwhelmed. I am so happy for everyone in Nashville who has found a place to call 'home' and a church community to call 'family' but I cannot continue to be a visitor, a window shopper, every single Sunday. As a newcomer to the South I already feel out of place. Why torture myself every 7 days and really dig the knife in deeper? I wish I was kidding. It is torture. 

After some soul searching and praying this afternoon, I am ready to commit. The church that felt right from the moment I walked in. The place I've gone to the most since being here, fits almost all of our "must-have" criteria. It is a small enough church that someone would notice if I didn't show up. They have the best children's program I've seen. They're friendly and deep and spontaneous and Biblical. They love Liam. They ask about Dan. What more do I need?

This is the first time in my life that I'm happy to be done with a shopping spree.


If you're a church-goer what do you look for in a church? What are your must-haves?

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you found a place to call home. We went back to church today after a two month hiatus, and it was so nice to have people look so happy to see us one lady whose name I don't even know coming up after to say she was worried since she hadn't seen us in a while. I explained I was pregnant and had been too sick to come and she was ecstatic. Our church has over 2000 families, three major languages spoken, and a wide range of age groups, yet it feels comfortable and inviting. I hope your new place offers to the same benefits!


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