Community posts part two. Go to Part One if you haven't read it yet.
Jon and I are looking for a church that isn't a huge lists of "hopeful things." Yes, they are preferences but it's not necessarily bad to prefer certain things. However some things are certain. There are a few things that MUST be there.
1. Good solid foundation of their faith (The Gospel is clear.)
2. The Pastor reads Scripture and speaks his sermon based off of it.
3. Welcoming, safe and a solid children's ministry/nursery (Does Ellie feel safe beyond her typical cries because she loves Daddy so much? Do we feel like Ellie is just a number or a sweet soul to teach her about Jesus?)
4. Worship focused.
5. The community is focused on people being real.
We would also like to get involved once we feel like the church is the right "place" for us. I would like to get involved in the children's ministry (but that is probably at least 2-3 years away, long story). We would like to get involved in a small group with other people who are parents of young kids. I would like to meet some moms who want to have playdates and meet outside of the scheduled group time. But I can't say yes to these involvements until those top 5 things are found.
I have not yet entered a church in Ames where I felt that. Why did I enter one church one time and felt that way in Cedar Rapids and in Urbandale? Why were my preferences and must-have's for where I was at in life "fit"? Have I changed? or is it just going to be 'that much harder'? I don't know!!
And the longer I struggle the harder it is to feel connected at each visit to a new or the same church as the week before. The more unplugged-in you are the harder it is to grow to a point where you are able to branch out and meet people, take the time to look around and focus on those preferences. When those top five things are not quite there it's hard to know....do you keep looking or "settle"?
But I don't want you to think I'm just settling. It's not like I'm thinking all churches should be perfect. I'm just saying why is this so hard? Are my preferences so out of whack? Please tell me I'm not crazy. And if you think that I am....pray for me!!
I also blog about this so I can look back and see where God has taken us over the years. It is helpful to remind myself God is faithful. He will lead us to where we "fit." Jesus walked on this earth and didn't really "fit." He also understands the need for relationships (He had 12 disciples for a reason).
What experiences have you had with church-searching? What are your preferences? What are you desiring today?
I'm desiring a strong Scripture-based message, meanwhile my child happily playing with sweet people watching her, worship that focuses on no one but Him, and community. We need people in our lives to walk beside. We can't do this alone. We need each other. Who's with me?