For the first time in either of our lives, Patrick and I are searching for a new church home. We grew up going to church with our parents, followed by attending church in our respective college towns, and then spent a combined 7 years in church employment. Now we have moved to a new/old town, and we must choose a place of community worship.
We thought this would be a fun, engaging, investigative process. While some of these elements have existed, it has proved a more daunting quest than we had anticipated. It's hard.
One reason it is hard is because we are programmed through our years in ministry to look for and notice certain things. Because we have sometimes known too much about the behind the scenes stuff, we are analyzing and questioning motives, agendas, and wondering about each church's "end game." We're not removed enough to really buy into much. In moments where we catch ourselves doing these things, we are embarrassed at how cynical we must have become, and we wonder if we need some more time to de-funk.
Another reason it is hard is because if we were to write down a list of what we were looking for in a church, it would include all of the things that we LOVED about our former church(es) and be the complete antithesis of the things that we LOATHED about these same churches. Are we ridiculous to believe that some such church exists? Ummm, yeah!
We are trying to readjust and relearn how God has gifted us and think through how we might use those gifts in a new place. Would we help with the youth ministry, inner city ministry, college ministry, Hispanic ministry, all of the above? In the churches that we are considering, are there such ministries in place, or would we have the passion, resolve, healing, and strength to begin one of these groups?
We are sorely missing our Lifegroup--which we essentially considered our "church." While special, new, fresh relationships are certainly exciting to think about, we know that we will not (nor do we desire to) replicate those special relationships formed from our "house church" in Montgomery.
So, our status at this point: We have visited 6 different churches. 6 Sundays=6 churches... It is really hard to wake up every Sunday morning and go to a different place. Yesterday we took an indigestion-induced break and just sort of regrouped. We have decided to pick one and visit it for about a month--try a Sunday school class, visit a small group, investigate ministries, talk with elders, still fly under the radar a bit, and then see if it is a good fit for us...
We are thankful for this time period because we know that God has strengthened our individual and combined relationships with him, and it has also reminded us and reignited in us a desire to be a part of a community of believers. We'll see where the journey takes us.