Monday, August 1, 2011

Church Shopping


Finding a new church is a hard thing. It's not like shopping for a new pair of shoes or a hairdresser. The search for a church is not a philosophical decision, but rather one of the heart. Many emotions are involved in making this decision.
Whether you have moved to a new area or have decided that you need to find a new place to worship, past experiences hugely influence your decision. We crave the good experiences of the past and fear the bad. People are drawn to different churches for different reasons: worship style, programs offered, preaching style, friends or sense of community. It's easy to walk into a new church and become critical, judging each element trying to decide if it's the right fit for you. I get it and I find myself doing the same thing.
Last week we tried an English speaking church. Big plus on my check list. Friendly people. But the music was a downer from the first note. I really had high hopes when I saw the service being set up. But they took the old hymns and praise songs and cut the time in half making them drag on and on. I'm not sure why they did that as people seemed to be mumbling their way through the songs. We left disappointed that this church just seemed to be limping along rather than moving forward with life.
This morning we visited a Colombian church. I had been referred to this church by a friend of a friend who is living in the Netherlands. Crazy connection! We met a very friendly guy on our way there who spoke English. An encouraging conversation about God made the walk pass quickly. We went in and I saw there were 1,000-1,500 people there and this was just one of four services. As we began to sing I felt the joy of those around me praising God, but as the service progressed I realized just how much a hurdle my lack of Spanish was causing me. It was difficult to sit there, trying to follow along with the culture of this new church while not understanding the language being spoken. I thought about how difficult it would be in such a large church to become involved when I didn't speak the language.
So my thoughts are turning to what God wants the church to look like and how I should contribute to that. Do I look for something that is comfortable to me and that brings me pleasure? Do I look for something that is displaying the joy of God? Something that pushes me forward in my faith of God? I don't know the answers to these questions or where the right place is for me over the next few years. It's a journey that I'm on, seeking to grow in the process.

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