After 9 months of looking for a church, we finally landed and joined. I struggled with joining a church of another denomination because I have had the same affiliation since 1998, but many churches and pastors within the denomination were done with me when I divorced and remarried. I will say that a few pastors were kind enough to reach out to me, some of them in the same boat. I will enjoy the camaraderie with them although I have “crossed over”. The reasons go much deeper than the personal situation. I can’t speak for all the churches that have the same affiliation as the one we now attend, but I can point out some positive things that refresh my soul about the church I’m in now.
The legalistic battle was defeated before I got there. There are no battles over Bible versions, schedules, programs, music styles, etc. I am able to worship without this age-old tension in the air.
There is an overwhelming desire to go deeper into the Scriptures. The pastor, the groups, and everything I’ve seen reflects people who want to go deeper in their walk with Christ.
The spirit of love overcomes the spirit of judgment. Someone new to the state visited one time and said it was the friendliest church he attended in a 5-month period. Many churches want to be nice but don’t know how. Sadly, many churches expect the pastor to be the only outgoing and engaging one in the church.
There is a diversity in the body, and they welcome more! Many churches I attend in an area like this have mostly people who grew up in the area. There is nothing wrong with that. I guess I’m just one of those nerdy guys who loves to talk to people from different backgrounds. Our church has many like me from Virginia. Others are from the Midwest, the north, the Philippines, Scotland, Ecuador, etc. One of those is a college professor. I just love the diversity.
They desire to create a church of volunteers – people who are involved in some ministry of the church. They were not afraid to get me and my wife involved. Only one pastor in the area purposely got me involved in the church in the brief time we attended. He knew I respected his leadership as pastor and asked me to preach some and be involved in their music periodically. When you have experienced some of the hurt in ministry, it means the world for someone to still value your calling and ask you to be involved.
There is a major emphasis on discipleship and equipping church members. Anyone who joins this church cannot say they came in blindly. They strive to be a church that does what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 28 – “make disciples”. Every class I’ve attended has been food for my soul. The sermons demonstrate study and prayer. People long for God to move.
Obviously, it is not a perfect church. If it was before, I ruined it by joining. There is no perfect situation, but they are striving to be what God called them to be.
For those who prayed for us, thank you! Some of you prayed, and God didn’t answer the way you expected. That’s okay. Our family is in a safe place where we can joyfully worship, grow, and serve.