Sunday I had the great pleasure of attending a new church in my area. The church isn’t new, just new to me. This is a church I’ve had my eyes on for awhile but didn’t want to try out until I could go alone. My children are somewhat rooted in our current church. If this new church wasn’t where God was calling us to then I didn’t want to put my children through the changes of a new church. Does that make sense? It could be that I’m just super sensitive to church hopping since my parents did a lot of that when my brother and I were young. It wasn’t a good experience for me and I don’t want that for my children. Having said that, I’ve been feeling restless in my spirit, knowing God’s whispering me into a new direction, following His quiet Voice, His leading me elsewhere.

I walked into the building, immediately greeted by two smiling older men – grey haired, somebody’s grandfathers, they warmly extended their hands to me. Looking me in the face, with love, they took my hand in theirs and welcomed me to the church. It’s like they knew this was my first time and I needed their warm welcome, a comforting embrace for a stranger. And then again, maybe they didn’t know I was new, maybe they just greet everybody like that. Either way, they were lovely Christian men that made this girl feel at home.

As I entered the building, I noticed the smiling man behind the welcome center. I couldn’t really pass by his smiling face without him noticing me sheepishly walking by the welcome center, this new person not wanting to stop and say hi. I’m not normally a social person. It makes me uncomfortable meeting new people, or making small talk. Put me in front of anybody willing to listen to me talk about Jesus and I come alive, but small talk, not so much – makes me nervous, uncomfortable. I’ve never felt at ease with the whole song and dance of meeting new people.  But there my feet took me, walking right up to him, with confidence. He was equally as warm as the two older gentleman at the front doors. Giving me a packet, an overview of the church, where things were located etc, he made me feel at home. So silly I was nervous just moments before meeting him. He made it so easy.

 

Two sweet ladies greeted me at the entrance of the congregation, doors wide open, gentle faces with pieces of paper about their church, handed to me, as I walked into the big empty room.

big

empty

room

Those words echoed in my mind, and my heart dropped. Why was it so empty? I began to get uncomfortable. I wanted to get up and run out of there, passing by the smiling faces that had, just moments earlier, greeted me with warmth. I’m so used to walking into my church, bumping into hundreds of people, nameless people, people that just fill up a room, but don’t fill up your heart. Where were are there to worship and listen to a preach but not there together, not there for each other. That is my comfort zone, just being one of a large crowd of people, not talking to anybody, just sitting alone, waiting for service to begin. This place was sparse. Not a place where you could sneak in unnoticed. My skin crawled, I wanted out and wanted out RIGHT NOW.

Growing more uncomfortable, wanting to run, an older couple walked up to me, greeting me with love. The love in that place was like nothing I’d experienced in other churches. His name was Bob, the older guy who ushered his wife to the chairs next to me. His wife, Mary. They shook my hand, welcoming me to their church. There was some small talk before another woman walked by and introduced herself. Her name was Connie. She’d been a member of the church for 20 years. Which opened up small talk about when the church was named something different, had different pastors, back when the church was actually a church I attended for a short period of time.

More people sprinkled in. The room began filling up more but was no where as large and anonymous as my current church.  People were looking at me, noticing the new girl. That doesn’t happen at my church. I wouldn’t know a new person from someone whose been there for 20 years if my life depended on it.  Please understand me, I am not bashing my church. My current church is a lovely place to worship, and learn. It’s large and attracts a lot of people. It’s the home for many of my brothers and sisters and they love it, feeling no urging inside to go elsewhere. My church is a good church. I just happen to feel a restless urge inside to wander, to find the place God has for me and my family. To find a smaller church, not small, but smaller. A place where we don’t get lost in the crowd. A place where we can make relationships easily, and recognize our brothers and sisters when they walk through the door. A place where the pastor actually knows our faces, and the children’s services are smaller, less about games, and loud music, and fancy lights, and more about intimate learning of Christ. I do not know if the church I visited Sunday is that church. I’ll have to attend the church more than once to know the answer to that question. It was a really good start though.

The worship was Spirit-breathed, and all about Jesus. The pastors son preached, as the pastor was out of town. His message was tailor-made for me: mentoring your children. I took notes. I never take notes. As I got up to leave, Bob and Mary told me to have a nice week, that they were glad to have met me, and hoped to see me again. With that, I left. I left filled. I left happy. I left conflicted, not yet sure if this was our new spiritual home. I left praising God for a new experience, asking Him for a clear answer. I left knowing I’d be back again. I also left with an appreciation for my current church, as its been a good place for my family for a few years, and even though I feel we’re outgrowing it as our spiritual home, I don’t disrespect it, or its people, because they are my people, my brothers and sisters, and I love them dearly.

I will go where God leads…following Him is the only way to live.

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