The Search for a Church.

Do you remember that old Sunday School rhyme where you lock your fingers together and make a fist before raising your first fingers together and saying “This is a church and here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people. Close the doors and hear them pray. Open the doors and they all walk away.”

I do, Alex does, but that’s because for our whole lives we’ve been involved in some way in the church. Alex’s parents involved him – mine, well Mom is a pastor so you can guess how involved we are even when my brother and I live outside the home. But lately Alex and I have, well we’ve had a problem.

This isn’t a topic I typically I speak about with anyone barring my mother. It has led me to fights with my hubby, frustration and confusion from friends, and flat-out anger with others. So…I just don’t talk about it.

Yet, here we are leading to the holiday season and Alex and I are STILL searching for a church. Our search has had us find pastors that are great, but lacking in additional service areas. Or service areas that are great but a lack-luster message. We’ve found churches that would be PERFECT…If we had kids. Or if we were older. Or we had the strident desire to jump out of airplanes.

Ok so not so much on that last one, but you get the idea.

Our issue seems to be a fairly common one and our biggest frustration has come from a variety of needs. You’ve got Alex who gets off of multiple days with very little sleep due to his work schedule having to wake up early on the first day he gets to sleep in. (Which I totally do not understand since you’d think 5 hours past normal wake up time would not still be considered “early”  but I was always an early riser.) Then on top of that you have the holiday season so less attendance than normal some days, higher than normal others, and well…just confusion ‘round these parts to say the least. Last, we aren’t exactly in the screaming majority here. We don’t have children (yet…Ms Baby Fairy wherever you are..HINT HINT), we are in our 20’s, we’re married, and we’d like a church that has programs for us. Oh and we don’t live in a college town. At all. So…low demographic leads to “low” needs and so forth so on.

It’s a challenge.

Now then, having said all that – I am reaching out to you, my interweb friends, for advice. What is it you look for in a church and what is it you find most important? We want to find a church home, before our kids turn 18 preferably, but maybe we are approaching this the wrong way.


12 responses to “The Search for a Church.

  1. My husband and I are in the same predicament (and have been for most of our marriage). It’s hard to find a church that fits, especially if you’re in the minority. We focus on finding a church with a worship style we enjoy and can respect (no funeral sounding versions of “Count your many blessings,” but not a three ring circus) and a welcoming spirit. It’s really difficult to find the right church without trying out small groups/Sunday school/whatever they might call it in other denominations. If you find that place where you fit well within the larger body, chances are you’ll be more plugged in and comfortable within the body as a whole.

    • I think that is the part we are struggling with the most. The small group aspect. Its also hard when a lot of groups in this area are designated primarily for parents and/or children but no one else.

  2. I have struggled with the same issue – but my husband, not so much. He was not raised in a church-going environment. I went to parochial school, church every Sunday, the whole 9 yards. We went to a service with a friend of ours a couple of years ago and my husband liked it, save for a few things. I agree with Witless Exposition entirely – but also have struggled to not only find a place we feel at home but also to convince my husband that this is right for us. Until then, I consider myself “spiritual” rather than “religious” and try to stick to the beliefs taught to me by my parents and upbringing in the church. I know, I’m no help. But doesn’t misery love company? 🙂

  3. I totally agree with “Witless Exposition”. The biggest draw for A and I is the message from the pastor and the worship style. Honestly, I “Google”ed churches in the area, checked out their websites, listened to the messages online. When my pastor misused Star Trek with Star Wars in a church service message, I was hooked. I loved his ability to connect with all ages. That is hard to find and we are very lucky to have him.

    You and I have discussed this previously….and I think that even finding a church with a men’s and women’s group…you can’t be too far from finding at least ONE person (or couple) to relate to.

    • I LOVE that your pastor referenced Star Trek and Star Wars even if he mixed it up a little. That is such a perfect way to connect with your church – bring the big issues on to a relateable scale (and reference)!

  4. You aren’t going to find a perfect church. For starters, they are all filled with and run by people. 🙂 Maybe instead of looking for a church that fills your needs, try looking for one where you can fill theirs. What areas of ministry are you interested in? What are your gifts and talents and where could they be put to best use?

    • Well the human aspect of it is certainly something we understand 😛 but right now we really need a church that meets our needs. For a large wheel-barrow of reasons, we aren’t fit for ministry in any manner just yet. Unless people want an incessant two year old who goes “But Why?” to everything they say. In that case I’m your gal!

  5. I think you should use this time to keep visiting churches in your area and then branch out further. I’m not an Assembly of God person, but their pastor of the largest Assembly of God church here is so awesome, I listen to him on TV twice a week. He can tell Bible stories like no one I’ve ever heard before, and then relate them to when he was young or what is going on currently in our city and in America.

  6. An interesting conversation. I was just talking with Paul the other day about the best church I went to growing up – a little old fashioned white church (that did voting in the basement) where everyone knew everyone else. We walked up to the front door the first day, where the pastor (MS in counseling by the way) was greeting people as they came in. He knew we were there for our first time, chatted with us, was honestly happy to have use there. After that he went out of his way to introduce us other people. His sermon’s were all about love, sharing, etc. Paul and I are thinking about going to Unitarian Universalist service. The pastor and his wife are friendly and laid back. After inviting us once, they never brought it up again – I do not like being repeated evangelized to. They really encourage you to think and ask questions *wink* to understand all religions better. Paul and I think this will provide the sense of community we miss from childhood – him especially, – without pushing for statements of belief we are not sure about. I am not always sure what I think about God, but I am pretty sure that lying to him is bad mojo.

    • I think that you hit the nail on the head with your comment, What we really are looking for is community. Our faith is shaky, mine more than his, but a community would really help.
      On a total different note: HUGS!!!