We are officially church-hunting. And oh my, is it an experience.
Background: We've been at the same church for seven years. When we first got married, we initially drove to visit our families every weekend, including going to church with them. But that's not really leavin' and cleavin', so we decided to find a church of our own. We had no idea how to do this. We had been in church since we were both babies and grew up in an area where you picked a church and went there for life.
I was in a children's lit class one day and started talking to a peer. Come to find out, she was a pastor's wife. We went to their church the next Sunday and never left. It was bigger than the churches we grew up in, but not too big. Soon we became involved---children's ministry, finance committee, mission trips, and mom groups.
Recent changes and personal desires have us now on the hunt for a new church to call home. It's overwhelming to choose the place where you put your trust, your money, your service, and your spiritual vulnerabilities.
We want a church that...
1: Preaches and lives by the Bible. Just straight up Scripture.
2: Has energy for Jesus and for people.
3: Is racially diverse.
4: Supports adoptive families.
5: Has small groups where we can get connected.
6: Is contemporary(ish) in its services but isn't watered down.
7: Has open Communion---no rules about who can and can't participate in the Lord's Supper.
8: Is friendly---genuinely so.
9: Has an awesome kids' ministry including curriculum for young ones like our daughter.
10:Feels like home.
Thus far, we've only visited one other church, twice. The items on our hope list are mostly met. I've already been approached to considering jumping into an adoption ministry group. My husband would like to take part in some men's events.
But how do we know we're "home"?
I'm not convinced we are ready to decide, so we need to visit more churches.
The day I write this blog entry (a Sunday), we heard the pastor preach on Tx4: Take Time To Think. (And not just think, really, but pray and listen to God's response). (Click on the sermon from 8/14/10).
Now, I'm one who generally has a short attention span. I'm so type A, ready to do the next thing, and I find my mind wandering during sermons, thinking things like: What should I make for dinner this week? Hmmm, what's my blood sugar right now? Is E ok in the nursery? Ooops--I forgot to send that e-mail. Gee, I really need to paint my toenails.
This pastor held my attention, and in a good way. I leave the church feeling challenged and inspired---by the Bible. By what God says. And that's a good thing.
Our family is in an interesting place right now. We're church hunting, we're trying to figure out when and where we want to move to, and when we'll adopt again. These are big choices.
And that's why I love that the pastor preached on Tx4. He shared that God often says no to our requests...and we need to get that God isn't a genie or Santa. He doesn't live to please us.
Great analogy from the pastor: People treat God like a vending machine. We put in our money (our prayers), hit B6, and wait for the Snickers to fall out. Of course, it doesn't. So we first push the button again---this time with fervor. Nope. So then we ram our arm up the machine. Nope. So then we get crazy---we rock the machine. As the pastor says, no Snickers bar falls out, but six packages of Skittles do. :)
I think I'm scared to go to God so many times because I'm really afraid He'll say no. I'm a tackle it and run with it girl. I get a project or an agenda, and I will pursue it with passion, vigor, and enthusiasm until the thing is DONE. But I'm learning gradually that square pegs don't fit in round holes.
But if adoption taught me one thing, it's to LET GO and LET GOD. Yeah, totally cliche. But truly, when Christians seek God's will first and let the right blessings come as a result, there's much less heartache, much less drama, and much less unnecessary stress. So I'm trying to seek God first, I'm trying to be ok with Skittles instead of Snickers, and I'm trying to lean on the One who knows so much more than I do.
And in the meantime, we'll keep church hunting. :)