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.
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.
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.
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.