The Search for a Church
This happened several years ago and I shared about our experience on a forum. I’m putting it here for posterity.
Date: August 2008 (Holy smokes, Batman – has it been three years?)
Question: I’d be interested in knowing why you’re looking for a church home. You’ve been in this home church for so many years, why leave it?
Short answer: It’s time to move on.
Really, REALLY, Long answer:
When this fellowship started, it was more ‘churchlike’, ie, it did not start out as a home church. There was an actual church building, a pastor, a pulpit, the people sat in rows, etc. This was about 25 years ago. I don’t really know all the details of when it all changed. This was before dh or I came into the picture.
Dh started going in early 1995. By then, the structure had changed to be more home church-y. I started going after we got married (July 1995). When we first started going, there were about 30 people or so. Most of us lived within a short distance of the building and of each other. [Personal comment: IMO, this should be the ideal. That way, if anyone needs help, help is readily available.]
At that time (1995), there was one very strong leader. He was one of the ones to ‘catch the vision’ of transforming the fellowship into a home church type of fellowship, if I have my facts right. (He is also an ordained minister, and was one of the pastors (if not THE pastor) of the ‘original’ church.) In 1996, he felt the need to allow the fellowship to go on without him because he felt that he was dominating the meetings too much. [Personal comment: He was. But then again, that’s his personality! I think he has some kind of ADHD – he’s always, always moving from project to project.]
In 1996, dh and I moved to our own home (we had previously been living with dh’s sister), but still not too far from the church building. Our good friend, G, helped us move. G was from that church.
In 1997, another family moved as well. They moved much further away and it was no longer practical for them to continue coming.
In 1998, another family did the same thing. They would come and visit once every few months.
One of the families, the “S” family, in addition to having fellowship with us in the morning, was also having a meeting in their home in the afternoons. Around this time, they felt that it was too much of a strain to continue committing to both, and so they invited their afternoon fellowship friends to join us in the morning. Two families joined us, but not long after, one of them left to join a different church.
In 2000, the “S” family moved. I think they still continued coming. Then, in 2002, they moved even further away and they no longer came weekly – I think they only came once every few months. Now, they have moved even further away (they’re in the Middle East at the moment!) and we see them if/when they come back on holiday.
So, the “B” family, the “G” family, the “W” family, G (whom I mentioned earlier), “J” (Mrs. G’s mother) and our family are the only ones left at this point.
In the last couple of years, the “B” family experienced some changes in their family. Their oldest son joined the army and as part of that, he often goes for training and misses out on church with us. Their second son is also grown up; he moved out of home and has found another church at which to fellowship. Their two youngest children are still living at home, but occasionally go with their second brother to his church (it is more youth friendly, if you know what I mean).
Another family, the “G” family, also moved house, also further away from the church. They still consider it to be their home church, but they only come about 70% of the time because the wife works on the weekends.
The “W” family comes about 75% of the time as well, because they have very good friends who haved moved to the countryside and they go visit them about once a month or so.
In 2005, G felt that he needed to move on.
In 2006, we moved house. We are not any further from the church (building), but we are far from the other families. It is at least a half-hour drive to visit any one of them. Interestingly, if you can picture a wheel, our house is at the hub, and you can draw spokes out to the other families’ homes. It takes them considerably longer to go visiting the others. It would take Family “G” an hour to get to Family “B”‘s house.
To us, the above scenario is just ‘not right’ for a home church, or any church. As the church grows and changes, the way it is run should reflect that.
Since we announced our decision, some interesting things have developed. “J” (Mrs G’s mother) has also mentioned that she has felt for quite some time now that she ought to move on, but had felt guilty for doing so. Our moving on has given her a ‘reason’ to move on as well. The G Family (being so far away) has also felt the need to look for fellowship closer to home. Again, our moving on has served as a catalyst.
Date: September 2008
In the past couple of months, we have visited four churches. One of them actually had a separate venue for the children for the entire service. The children were shepherded off to Children’s Church right even before we got to the “main auditorium,” where they got their own service.
Another one we visited had a cry room for infants and I was told that my 21mo was too old for that room and had to go to the Toddlers’ Room. I had to sign her in, and get a number. I could choose to go back to the main auditorium and if there was any ‘problem’, they would flash her number up on the screen.
At yet another church, my ds got a prize from Sunday School. I asked him what it was for. He said it was for being “Most Well-Behaved”. What does ‘well-behaved’ mean? Sitting quietly and listening to the teacher. (I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at this.)
Another one we visited was small and had no children, and thus no children’s church. They were very apologetic about this and were very surprised when I said that it’s okay, our children are used to sitting with us, and can follow the sermon.