Sunday, September 09, 2007

3 weeks + 3 churches= 3 very different experiences

So a few posts ago I was trying to answer the question "Where have we been?". The last three weeks have brought several different experiences for us and the kids. We have tried out 3 different Baptist churches in 3 weeks. We could probably try out a new one each week for the next 3 months and not hit the same one twice.
This is just a quick overview of our experiences.
Church #1:
Distance from our house:
5 minutes
Membership: maybe 150, no other kindergartners, only a few other 3 year olds.
Friendliness of members: really, really friendly. They remembered us from when Munchkin went to VBS there 2 summers ago.
Ease of finding classrooms: It is very small but the person helping us didn't really know where everything was due to the building being brand new.
Sermon: was really good. The sermon was on Hebrews and Heroes of the Faith. The Pastor pointed out several themes throughout the book of Hebrews. He also packed about a 50 minute sermon into about 25 minutes. Lots of information to process but I actually learned something. Also, a man got up and gave his testimony and I cried. I am not sure the last time I cried in a service.
Music: Super traditional. There was a choir at first in choir robes then just the music pastor and a piano player.
Followup: One of the members drove by our house that afternoon and dropped off a welcome packet with a tract in it.

Church #2
Distance from our house: About 7 minutes
Membership: Maybe around 1500. We weren't really sure.
Friendliness of Members: I don't think anybody thought we were visiting so we were kind of bypassed. I did see one of Munchkins friends from school and another girl I know from the area.
Ease of finding classrooms: This was kind of a feat. We parked in the guest parking area but probably should have parked by the kids area...but we didn't know that. Once we got to the kids area everything is computerized so parents check the kids in. The director did not seem very happy to help us figure out what we were doing. Little Mans class was downstairs and he cried when we left him. Munchkins class was upstairs but we didn't know which class to put her in and the first lady didn't seem to want her in her class. We were happy to find Munchkins friend in the other class. That happened to be down the hall from the balcony so that is where we sat.
Sermon: The founder of True Love Waits spoke and was really good. I think they are in the process of looking for a new head pastor because I think the current one in retiring.
Music: Choir with robes, a few worship choruses, an acoustic guitar on one song and a piccolo on one song. Very traditional. They do also have an orchestra and a handbell choir that play on Sunday morning sometimes. As a flute player and former President of the Handbell Choir at APU those aspects made me really happy.
Followup: I don't think there will be any. The door we went in for the service didn't have any bulletins or any way for anyone to know we had been there.

Church #3
Distance from our house: About 13 minutes
Membership: Around 500
Friendliness of members: A couple stopped us after the sermon to chat. They actually live in our neighborhood and are good friends with the couple that lives 2 doors down from us.
Ease of Finding Classrooms: This is not a huge church but there are signs that show the way to go. Once we found the kids area the lady behind the desk was extremely helpful. Little Man did not cry at all. He walked right in. We were very impressed with the kids program (except that they were showing Arther in Little Mans class when we went to pick him up). Kids church has puppets and music (kind of like Little Tree House at Longhollow) and a Bible Story.
Sermon: Was about being certain where you will spend eternity. He did say he does not preach on Hell a whole lot but felt like it was time. He approached it from the personal experience side of things. You know if you have had a personal experience with God and no one can change that.
Music: Contemporary. There were 6 or 7 people singing on the worship team, 2 electric guitars, a piano player and a keyboard player. They had a few sound problems but that didn't make too much of a difference.
Followup: We only filled out the paperwork at the kids center, we didn't fill out the visitor info in the bulletin so we'll see. I think they have a visitation meeting where they call, email or come to your house to followup with you.

We have had 3 very different experiences these last few weeks without them being theologically different. Neither one of us is totally committed to staying at a Baptist church either. We worked with a Brethren youth group, led worship at a Free Methodist church, and we were on the worship team at a non-denominational church. I grew up in Baptist churches though so that is the comfortable for me. We just want to be someplace where we can be involved, where we can serve, where we can learn and grow. So far I think Church number 3 is going to get a followup visit from us. There are a couple of others we want to go to and check out but something just felt right this morning. We'll see.


  1. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Thanks for the update on your journey.......God will lead you to the right place!
    Amy B.

  2. this is a great way to assess.

    makes me want to forward this to churches so they can see what they look like from the outside.

    i'm SO glad our search is over. i thought i was going to lose my mind before we found ours.

    keep us updated!

  3. I go to a Victory Outreach church in California. They have a church locator on their website. I feel like I am home. I love that they help people through various ministries and I feel like I am home there. As I don't know what town or state your in maybe there is one near by.

  4. Anonymous6:52 PM

    I remember doing this..not all that long ago! It was a wonderful time for Aaron and I to really be "on the hunt" together! Enjoy this'll find that people are genuinely interested in you as a family, and not just where you can "plug in" and get "busy" in the church! As a new visitor, you're off the hook for a while! Ha!

  5. Anonymous5:04 AM


    Have you heard of Life Church? It is really different but so awesome.

  6. Karen,

    I will be praying for you and your family in this journey. I remember (vididly) this process when we finally landed at Long Hollow. I LOVE reading your overview of each one and hope you will continue doing it...what a wake up call to churches everywhere. I will never forget one church we visited had 16 kids in the boys class with ONE teacher so we obviously didn't leave them (although they seemed offended that we thought there weren't enough help) We finally get to service WITH the boys and the preacher makes a RACIST remark during preaching. Needless to say, we didn't go back. Keep me posted :)

  7. I didn't know yall were leaving LH! :(

    Our church searches (although now since we are looking for Jason a job usually, it's a little different - hopefully we won't have to look for a long, long time - Lord willing!) have been exciting. The greatest tip I can give is this: Visit more than once. We committed to visit each church at least 4 times. You can get a bad first impression. You can also get a false GOOD first impression (all smiley and nice the first time but after a while, it's different). We also tried to visit at least one or two classes - don't judge just based on the worship service. That really helped us. There was a church or two that we knew after visit one that it just wasn't going to happen. But, any that we were serious about we applied those rules.

    One church we just visited one time and knew had the pastor furious about coloring hair and how it defames our "temples". (not our temples on our head, our temples of the Lord - our bodies.) Didn't follow that logic at all.

    We had two others where NOBODY spoke to us. NOT ONE! No eye contact anything. In one we even went to a class and were lost trying to get to the sanctuary in the middle of a group of people and nobody helped us - we actually were looking at Jason working there. That was a no! In the other one, the lady one row behind us complained to her friend LOUDLY, "I didn't know if you'd find us since we had to sit a row back. These visitors just come in here and sit wherever they want to." No lie. I started crying right there in the pew as it was our first Sunday away from TN. We were all the way in TX, and I was very homesick for Long Hollow. Funny story now, definitely not at the time!

    Makes you think about how we treat visitors at our own churches!!!!!!!!

  8. Thanks so much for all of the great comments! :) We are taking a week off because we will be in Colorado for a wedding but will keep posting when we get back!