On Sunday, when I arrived at the door of the children’s church room, Lauren smiled and said, “This is the best one yet! Can we come back?”
As Rachel showed me the playground in the side yard, she jumped up and down, “This church feels the most like home. It’s my favorite so far!”
The boys all agreed. As Caleb so succinctly put it, “I liked just about everything, and there was nothin’ bad.”
Some other families in our building are members of this church and had invited us. One mother told me how much her teenage children love it, how everyone seems to make everyone else feel welcome and included, how the youth group is surprisingly free of cliques. But it can be a 30 minute drive, so we didn’t visit right away.
Finally, we checked out the website and noticed that the pastor does expository teaching through books of the Bible. That’s just what my husband was hoping for! So he decided we’d visit last Sunday.
This church has roughly the same amount of people as our home-church, which really helped our children feel at home. Right away, I was invited to participate in the first of a 7-week Bible study for ladies during the Sunday School hour. I felt very welcomed and the subject is exactly what I need right now. My husband sat in on a Sunday School class of mixed gender and ages. The subject was intellectually-challenging and meaty. He may have even sighed in relief — this was what he’d been looking for.
We have decided to commit to this church for 6 more weeks, until the women’s Sunday School class wraps up. At that time, we will prayerfully evaluate and make a decision. So far, we feel comfortable with the church. The people are friendly and welcoming. The church constitution is sound and agreeable to us. The doctrines are solid and biblically-based. The teaching on Sunday morning was loving and firm and thorough and just what we have grown to expect from a sermon. The music honored God and drew our hearts to worship Him. The worship was real. We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. And we saw a desire to reach the community and the world with the love of Christ.
Oh, and some of the children from school also attend this church, so my kids know people. That helps a lot.
I feel it is important to say —- we know this church isn’t perfect. We expect, at times, that we’ll wish something were different. We probably won’t have warm, fuzzy feelings about every person we meet there. We have not been looking for the perfect church. I believe that would be a futile search since all local churches are made up of imperfect people. In our minds, we have a concept of the ideal church — everything we’d absolutely love in a local church. But we also know that church has never existed and would never exist. And if it did, we’d probably mess it up by joining it with all of our imperfections!
So if you are also looking for a church home, I hope to encourage you. Prayerfully consider what is essential and what is preferential. (For us, doctrine is essential and some other things are preferential.) Evaluate your standards and expectations and prayerfully decide if they are realistic. Are you looking for the perfect church? Or are you looking for the church where God wants you?