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Open Hearts

May 26, 2010

It’s been fourteen years since we looked for a church home. After visiting one that was horrible (and it was Easter Sunday!) we found the right one and were blessed to be a part of it the entire time we lived in PA.

We’ve entered this new stage of life – retirement – so the search will be different than ever before. After not attending church for two months (except to visit our kids’ churches when we visited them), we’re ready. Ready to walk in and not know anyone, listen to a few sermons, see what worship is like, look to see if there are opportunities to grow and learn and serve, for all ages. And even though we won’t be sending anyone to VBS or youth group, a healthy church will offer those.

I’m reading “Open Heart, Open Home (the hospitable way to make others feel welcome and wanted), by Karen Mains. Her chapter on what a home church should look like has been a great blessing. She mentions the average relocation occurs once every three years(!!!!) Oh my, we sure don’t want to be moving again any time soon, but it does tell me we won’t be the only newbies, wherever we end up attending. That’s a comfort because walking into a church and feeling anonymous is not comfortable. Her point is that because we are on the move so much, so often, the church family has a much bigger role than it did in years past, when family members lived close by.

She presses the point that ‘interaction with people of different ages is all-important to the preservation of (the sense of a) family. I know that’s true with my mother, who has been mightily blessed to find the right church near her home. Those people love on her like nobody’s business, giving her a place to serve, share, worship and feel connected when we, her family, are miles away. It’s been true for all three of our kids and their families too – finding a church was the starting point for feeling at home, wherever they lived. Karen mentions that having a church family doesn’t exclude our natural relatives -, it gives us the opportunity to open our hearts to those who share our faith in an extended family setting. Probably many of us don’t share a faith with our families so it makes finding the right church even more vital.

She also talks about how important it is for us to step out of our comfort zone, not hide behind ego, not hide our true selves. If we do that it’s impossible to tell others who we really are. So this Sunday we’re off to attend the first church we’ve pegged as a possible good fit for us. We’ll start by attending their worship service, then when we think the fit is good we’ll check out Sunday School classes. Because as Karen says in her book, “We were created to be in relationship – with God, with our inner selves and with others.” Amen.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Huckaby permalink
    May 26, 2010 2:27 pm

    Wonderful post, Bev! So true. I hope this church will be a good match for you. I’ll be anxious to hear how you like it.

  2. May 26, 2010 3:57 pm

    Well said … great points. We are “settling” for now in the church that we have gone to for several weeks. I am involved in the women’s study on Thurs nights and enjoying that.

    It is hard to make friends. Knowing they share our faith is one way that makes it easier. Sisters already is a good feeling.

    And I just read Sarah’s account of her weekend with you. Oh, how I know you are just full of joy abounding. Full of it!!

  3. May 26, 2010 5:21 pm

    Finding, then settling into, a new church can be stressful. Thankfully, we don’t have to make that decision alone, as the Lord will guide us, in answer to prayer. Some churches put more importance on the external than the heart, seeking to snatch up what appears to be a successful looking family, wooing them to join. If a family (couple, whatever) appear successful, then dollar signs (tithes) flash in that church’s eyes. It’s a sad fact, but I’ve seen it to be true. Those who wish to be stroked will jump on board, happily. Knowing you (through your writing on your blog), I know that won’t be a problem, as you’ll be seeking to be led by God’s Spirit.

    The book you mentioned is easy to find, I’m happy to say (I know you said you’d had yours for many years). There is a 1997 revised edition, which I am going to order. I think this suggestion came at a perfect time for me. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  4. May 26, 2010 5:22 pm

    So important. You will “know” by the Spirit when it is the right church for you. My prayer is that God will lead you quickly to that just right, perfect place when you can be just that part of the Body of Christ that is needed there.

  5. May 27, 2010 1:26 pm

    Renna, the possibility of wooing certain families had not occurred to me. One of the churches we’re considering lost their senior pastor about a year ago to a tragic accident so they’re bound to be hurting still; when we visited with the pastor of the other one and he told us about that church he had to stop because he was so saddened by their loss. Thankfully, neither of the two we’re strongly considering seem to be in competition with the other, but rather one has a vital ministry to the Hispanic population and the other concentrates on the needy in the community. Both are about 1/4 the size of our previous church and we’re excited to visit both of them.

  6. May 27, 2010 4:11 pm

    Bev, thankfully ‘most’ pastors/churches are not that way, but I have seen it happen enough (James 2:2-4), never blatantly, but obvious enough for the regulars to see it. Those people who would fall for the flattery of a pastor/church doing that are not sensitive to God’s voice, and I know the opposite to be true with you.

    It sounds like you have some good choices, and I’m sure you’ll be led to make the right choice for where God wants to plant you.

    PS-I ordered the book yesterday! I found a “very good condition” revised copy (1997) on Amazon for $5 plus shipping. For that matter, a brand new copy at the author’s website is only $11. I’m hoping to get my copy before our upcoming camping trip. While the gangs out on the boat, I plan to laze around the campsite with the dogs, my knitting, a good book, and nature. πŸ™‚

  7. May 28, 2010 12:44 am

    Bev–good luck with your church search. That is one thing we don’t have to go through–for better or for worse, the church Mark is appointed to is it! I know you’ll feel in your hearts when you find the right fit–I hope it’s soon! Love and blessings, Karen

  8. May 28, 2010 2:15 am

    Great info from the book! God will guide you to a church where your needs can be met – and where you can serve Him and others. Hope the searching will be a pleasant, learning experience for you!

  9. May 28, 2010 3:22 am

    Finding “the” church for you is a challenge, but I know you’ll find what you’re looking for because of your open hands and open hearts. You’re right where He wants you. xxxooo

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