“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


The Search

Sunday, December 30, 2007

For more than twenty years I attended the same church. We’ll call it Rez. I first visited Rez with my parents when I was a teenager and we joined shortly thereafter.

I was very involved in the youth group and all my closest friends were from Rez. Almost all my social activities as a teenager were centered around the church and my church friends.

When I was 21, the Geek started attending there. We met, fell in love, and were married there just a few short months later. For many years we were active members, serving at various times in various ways: cleaning the facilities; singing in the choir; playing musical instruments on the worship team; singing, playing, acting, and writing for Christmas musicals; leading a home group. Our lives were completely wrapped up in Rez.

For nearly fifteen years, we have dreamed of a home in the country. When that dream first began to take form, we dropped most of our obligations at Rez in order to concentrate on the dream. The further we became immersed in our plans – buying land, designing our home, arranging the building of the home – the less we attended church at Rez.

We did still attend, though. It was sometimes every other week, sometimes once a month, sometimes less than that, and when we were there people would ask us if we would continue attending Rez after we had moved to our home in the country. “Sure!” we replied with confidence. After all it was only an hour drive and Rez had been our church home for so long we couldn’t fathom leaving it.

But as the house project continued to move forward, our attendance continued to wane. The less we attended, the less we felt a part of the church family. We would greet a few friends, enjoy the worship, and occasionally even go out to lunch with friends afterwards, but it got to the point where there were more faces we didn’t recognize than those we did; more songs we had never heard than those we could sing by heart.

And then, two months ago, we moved.

There is something about moving to the country that makes you not want to leave it. Maybe it’s the quiet beauty that makes you not want to go back to the noisy clutter of the city. Maybe it’s the novelty of a new home. Maybe it’s the same no matter where you move. There is something to be said for making your church home in the community in which you live.

So, despite our confident replies, assuring people at Rez that we would not leave, we have begun the search for a new church home. This is a completely new experience for me. Rez was my church home all my adult life. I have never had to be part of the decision process of finding, choosing, and settling into a new church. Now that we have started that process I can attest to the fact that it is more difficult than it seems.

Churches, by nature, are very social groups so each time you enter a new church you are sure to meet many new people, even on the first visit. This in itself can be stressful. Almost subconsciously you put on a face that says “I’m happy to be here but still searching, interested but not decided, searching but not vulnerable”. You smile and shake so many hands, hoping that no one expects you to remember their name just yet. You wonder what they say amongst themselves after you have left, or if they even remember you at all.

And then there are the questions that must be answered. What kind of music do they sing? Can you worship with them? Do they have lots of activities going on? Are there so many activities that you may get roped into being more involved than you can handle? How about the sermon? Is it meaningful? Well-delivered? Sincere? Biblical? Sound? Insightful?

We have visited two churches so far. One just wasn’t our style, though they did tell us that the first and third services were more contemporary. (We had attended the second service.)

The other was an Assemblies of God church which tends to have a good, solid, Biblical foundation. The people there were friendly, the music sincere and worshipful, the message was very good actually. And yet....

We’re going to visit them again this morning, give it a chance, continue to investigate and see whether it could become home. There is just a strangeness to this whole thing. I think it stems largely from the fact that, for the first time in over twenty years I have no church home.

After so many years of dreaming and planning, we finally have our dream home in the country, but now we face the new challenge of finding our new church home. I just hope and pray that we can find a place that is as much home to us now as Rez was for so many years past.

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