Looking for a new church is weird. I have a whole little list of what I like to see in a church and things that send me running for the hills. It's all personal preferences and mine are even a little different from Neal's. Often, it feels like interviewing a new family.
Are they friendly? Great! Are they too friendly and won't leave you alone? Yikes.
How are the kids programs? Wait a minute, you have a 15 year old in charge of 22 4-year olds? No thank you.
How is the preaching? Do I feel encouraged? Challenged? Is the pastor confused in thinking he's a stand-up comedian and his message is just a fleeting verse thrown in? Do they stand when they read the Bible?
I was incredibly blessed to come from an amazing church growing up. The music was incredible, the preaching was heartfelt and always interesting and challenging, the people were lovely, the programs were varied and great. But coming from that setting and trying to find a sister church is basically a futile search. It's a shame because I want my children to have that experience as they grow up. I want them to have hearts filled with hymns and praise for the Lord that will get them through the time times that life paves ahead of them. I pray that God will lead us to a new church home every time we get orders. It's so important to me to give my children the gift of faith.
The beauty of moving all the time though, and constantly "interviewing" new church families is that my own view broadens. What a beautiful thing. Where I was once only looking for churches who never veered away from Hymnals, now I am happy to find a solid praise and worship team or a combination of the two. Where I used to run from churches with pastors in jeans and flip flops (still not a huge fan), I now see that his words are more important. I'm thankful for the opportunity to meet people all over the place, to see how they worship, to see what the Lord is doing. But I must admit, if we ended up going back to Virginia, boy would I be ecstatic to go home. To sit and listen to the comforting sound of my pastor preaching, my choir singing, my kids going to the same Awana classes that I did. I miss it immensely.
It's hard to interview churches. It's hard to put yourself out there and place your children in the hands of strangers every week. I'll keep searching and trying to find a new home church. Seeking the balance of all the little things I hold dear.
It's exhausting. But I have to say, it's totally worth it.
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