How many of you have ever been in the position of finding a new home church? How did you feel? What were your standards? Why did you end up choosing and settle with that one church? Was it the people? The music? The preaching? How you were greeted? Was it the whole 'vibe' you felt? However, did any of those things also make you NOT want to go back at a church?
Send me a message in the Contact section on my website. I’d like to know your thoughts and experiences on church searching.
This past Sunday we started our search. We attended a church that I happened upon online before coming here and then was recommended by a friend after we arrived in Scotland. We actually really enjoyed it. In fact, I personally left the premises feeling a sense of peace. When we first got there we had our double buggy (stroller) with us since we walk everywhere, and immediately there was someone there willing to help us carry it up the steps. As we were walking in, a nice couple who walked in with us, introduced themselves noticing we were new. They also let us know about this service being a different than normal Sunday so they hoped we'd want to come again to be part of their usual Sunday services in the following week but made a point of us being welcome to stay for this one.
Similar to Gateway, they had a meet and greet and challenged everyone to meet someone new. We met another couple during that time and they were just what we needed, or at least for me anyway. I instantly connected with a woman who welcomed us with loving arms. Literally. She fancied our kids and they loved sitting near us and played with the girls and held Ellianna so we could enjoy the sermon. After the service was over there was a coffee/tea and biscuits time to just hang around and chat with one another. This same woman invited me to stay and have coffee with her. She attended to my kids for me the entire time and after getting to know her better we just felt connected. She was an older Mum and I felt like I could really benefit from her encouragement, wisdom and insight as we have been through very similar situations with moving countries. She asked for my contact so we can meet up outside the church and has already been in contact with me since. Once word spread that we are Canadian and LIVING in Edinburgh, people flocked to us and wanted to meet us — because we are just so awesome haha! ;) I LOVED that everyone made us feel so welcome and loved already. It was such a great feeling since we are just new to the country.
For years I have always been quite heavily involved in my church back home. It’s where I became me. Chris and I met there. I made some amazing friendships. I really set some roots. Chris and I got married there, became parents, raised our children and had them dedicated. I was baptized there and so much more. I have totally felt at a loss as to where to start this new search. Part of me feels like no church will ever replace what I had with Gateway. And in actuality, that is true. But I was a different growing person there. God planted me with those people and leaders for that specific season in my life. And now I feel like the Lord is saying "Okay. Now lets move you up to the next level." Since God very blantantly uprooted our family to a whole new country, I also know and believe so deeply that He also has that perfect fit for us even while here in Scotland — that place we can call home. That church family we can set roots with. Grow with, learn with.
Here are a few verses from the bible that I believe are directed towards the church:
Hebrews 10:24-25 'And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities. Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.'
Ephesians 2:21 'In Him the whole structure is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a holy temple in the Lord [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and sacred to the presence of the Lord].'
Colossians 3:16 'Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence andwisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.'
1 Corinthians 1:2 'To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God's people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:'
After reading these verses over and over there is something in common that stands out to me the most and that is community. I believe that God wants us as a whole to connect, to care for, to lift up, raise up, invest in to, poor in to all generations of all walks and backgrounds. We are called to be in community with one another.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ‘two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him is alone when he falls asleep and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might reveal against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.’
Lets make this very clear. You don't shop for a church, you search for a home. I'm not handing church after church my credit card so I can purchase a seat only to have a moment with God and then be on with my day, all the while critiquing every little detail. 'I didn’t feel welcome.’ ’Nobody talked to me.’ 'The service was too long.’ ’The service was too short.' 'The preacher made me mad and I'm pretty sure the bible says that church shouldn't make us mad' oh and my favourite, 'The music was too loud and didn't even sound that good anyway so I couldnt focus on worshipping.' Sounds a little ridiculous, right?! You'd be surprised how often this happens... even attendees of churches do it. And I will admit that I too have said things like this before. I don't want to be going to a church with all these unrealistic standards that appease my eyes and ears, while the sermons constantly making me 'feel good' and the music is ALWAYS on-point. Sure, those things can be a bonus, but what about Jesus? Behind ALL that entertainment, behind all that noise, behind all that judgement, there is a God who is waiting patiently for us to settle down our minds, hearts, and bodies and take IN the word of God. To be willing to hear constructive criticism from the pastor that the Lord selected to be there that day. Sure, we may get offended sometimes, but thats just the Holy Spirit stirring up something in you to let you know that something there needs to change and it's not the church you are sitting in. *ehem*
I used to have this standard when actually out shopping at the mall that when I walked into a store and was not greeted then I wouldn't buy anything....just to prove a point. I saved a lot of money. Because of course they would notice that....right? W R O N G ! I set my standards too high and was offended and made it all about me....Catching my drift here?
I never want to feel like I have to be on the scout for this amazing 'deal find' when searching the right church to call home for us. I want to find something genuine, a place where the people care about our family and children and eachother. I want a church that puts God out there for me to GET. I want to be challenged in my walk so I am strengthened. I want to find a place where we can also mutually invest into other peoples lives as well. Something that is so important to me when in search for that right fit is community, outreach, hospitality, and on the bonus side, great music and great teaching.
Lets be honest, we all have our fantastic days where everything is going so gooood and then there are the days we just royally sucked and want to flush it down the toilet. When searching for a church, don’t just attend once and then make your choice. It takes time. Go for a few Sundays, try out some of the extracurricular activities they have available. Get yourself out there and meet people, even IF they don’t go to you first, be the one that goes to them.
Since Sunday, I have felt such a joy and peace about being here overseas and trust that I'm close to where God wants me to 'rest' for now. I'm not 100% sure if it is this new church we checked out, but I do have high hopes. I'm really looking forward to this Sunday!
Send me your thoughts and head over the Contact section. I'd love to hear from you!