I have briefly mentioned a time or two that we are searching for a new church home. We have been visiting congregations closer to home. We are looking for a place to worship and to serve the Lord. Not to serve in any official capacity but we always jump in and get involved with our congregation. I've had a few observations as we've visited churches these last couple of months. We have gone to a variety of denominations so I'm not pointing fingers at anyone in particular.
First a positive. We live in a small town. We came from a larger city. We had a time of church visiting in that city so it's kind of neat to compare. Here almost every single congregation has been overwhelming welcoming. People are just kind. They are happy to have visitors. It's a small place so they really seem to want to get to know families that come in for a visit. Out of a bunch of churches I can't think of any that we left feeling ignored or unwelcome. Most churches have had some familiar faces and a couple of times we've only spoken to people we already knew. However in just about all the churches we have been greeted by strangers and left feeling like we made new friends. I've been really impressed with the people of the body of Christ. I hope everyone that everyone who steps in those churches leaves with a smile like we did. Whether you are in a huge city or a little town like ours, I hope your congregation seeks to be friendly. A smile, a handshake, and a little chitchat can go a long way with someone who has stepped out of their comfort zone to walk into a church.
Now this one is truly an observation. It's something I had only noticed one time at one church years ago. Many new churches now have small sanctuaries but huge activity rooms. Some have more square footage for classrooms and fellowship halls than they do for the actual sanctuary. It seems so backwards to me! My thoughts are all over the place on this point. I know so many churches do activities to draw in people. (I'll get back to a similar path later on.) I think it is important to have children's and youth areas in a church. Those would be well used places. I also think it is wonderful for a church to have room to do Wednesday night and occasional Sunday meals. Fellowship time is of utmost importance in a congregation. However in a few of these newer buildings, I felt packed in like a sardine for service! I'll be the first to say it can be hard to focus on worship if the sanctuary is too small. Now if a church has grown and exceeded its space then that's a totally different scenario. Some of these are brand new, just built buildings though. Is this a common trend in other areas?
Touching on activities again, almost every church we've visited has been having a special Sunday. Maybe our rotation is just off and this is a happenstance. It has left me wondering if churches need to make every Sunday a special Sunday. Isn't it enough to have a special time each week to worship the Lord? It's almost become a joke before we walk into a new church. I wonder if they'll be having a potluck today? I wonder if the regular preacher will be speaking or if it will be a guest? I wonder if its missions/ special holiday/ youth/ college/ whatever Sunday here today? This one is a little tongue in cheek because I also know it probably doesn't seem that way looking over a church's schedule as a regular attending member.
Now for a serious note. Many churches are in a time of crisis. Many are seeking new pastors. Some are seeking support staff. Some have abandoned the Word of God for the word of the world. A few have seriously let go of worship and have become a fun place to go and see friends. There is a decline in Sunday School classes. There is a decline in kids staying in church service and instead they go and do fun activities that have little to do with the Lord. There are churches closing their doors every day. Let's be in prayer for the church. Not any particular congregation or denomination but for God's people in general. If you are in a church, I hope your church is focusing heavily on the Bible. Not on devotionals or study guides or books but on THE BOOK.
We've been involved in some amazing congregations in the past. I'm looking forward to settling into the one God has for us here. I'd appreciate your prayers as we continue to visit! Since it's a small community, we'll be starting to do a round two for some soon. Have you ever found yourself looking for a new church home? Did you have any funny or curious observations?