Finding a Church: Part 1

10 08 2009

We went to a new church yesterday.

We had pored over various church websites all week long and finally settled on a young church-plant that met in an old apartment building.  The service started at 10:30.  We left our apartment at 10:20.  Perfect timing.

Then we got lost (actually, what really happened was that we ignored our GPS).  By the time we pulled into the parking lot, we were 10 minutes late.  We didn’t want to be too conspicuous on our first visit, but we were comforted by the fact that other, apparently regular, churchgoers were just walking in.  So we went in, took a program, and found a seat on the very back row.

By 11 a.m., I knew we weren’t going to find our new church home here.  Jordan did, too–and we could read each other’s facial expressions and body language like an open book.  By the time it was time for the coffee break (yes, they had a coffee break during the middle of the service!) we contemplated leaving.  But, out of politeness, and not really wanting to leave our seats for any reason, we stuck around.

There was nothing “wrong” with the church.  It is a growing ministry that obviously “works” for those within it, and I commend it for that.  It just didn’t fit us, and what we were looking for.  I blogged recently about how uncomfortable that first church visit is, because you find yourself being incredibly judgmental about every aspect of a particular service.  It doesn’t feel right–and I know it’s not fair—but it happens nonetheless.

I’ve been thinking about those snap judgments, and first impressions, and how very important they are.  By the first 15 minutes at the first church we visited, we felt comfortable.  The church felt genuine.  It “fit.” (Why we’re still looking is another story).  However, by the end of those same 15 minutes at this second church, we felt totally out of place.  (Although I’m willing to bet that someone else could have had the exact same experience, in reverse)

What made that happen? I’m still not sure, but I’m willing to find out.  Over the next couple of days, as we seek out a new church to attend next Sunday, I’m going to be reflecting on what it is that we are looking for, and how we are evaluating our visits.

Churches are not one-size-fits-all, and our spiritual needs are certainly not representative of every seeker.  But surely, in the vast urban landscape that is Atlanta, there is at least one church that has a place prepared for us…

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