Okay. I have read your story from page one to page fifty. Where are you going to go from here?
After meeting with the minister and his wife on July 4, 2009, I decided I wanted to get involved with a church again, after being away from churches and church people for eleven years. The minister and his wife said some encouraging things to me that helped me to make this decision. But, if I was going to do this, it had to be a church outside of my hometown. In the past, I had visited many churches in my town and was not happy with any of them. So I decided to visit churches at least forty miles, and beyond, away from home. So I made a list of churches I would like to visit and on July 19th, 2009 I attended my first church service in eleven years. By the way, none of the churches on my list was a Catholic Church. I was done with the Catholic Church.
July 19th, 2009 - Attended first church service in eleven years
One cannot always tell by the name of a church, what kind of church it is. And it really did not matter to me that much, but I did focus in on non-denominational churches. I wanted to see what was "out there", and having been away from churches for so long, I knew there had to have been some changes. I must say I was not impressed with this service. I was so disappointed in it I did not even stay for the entire service. It was way too much charismatic for me. The majority of the congregation were emphasizing their emotions over the Word of God that was being preached.
I'm charismatic in my beliefs, just not in my worship, although I have been known to raise and sway my hands during worship songs. I am basically on the non-charismatic evangelical side as far as services are conducted because I do not enjoy the emotional involvement that occurs during services, such as dancing, speaking in tongues, swaying of flags or scarves, laughing, conducting outbursts of praise or shouting at the minister while he is preaching. These distractions annoy me during services because I want to hear an intellectual sermon based on "truth" not the emotions.
I do believe we can hear God's voice (I have), and I believe we can feel God's presence and leading (I have). But I feel services should be conducted with respect to God's word and to the minister who is delivering that word. In other words, I do not enjoy all the hoopla, shouting, dancing, and carrying on during services that is so typical in charismatic churches. I prefer a sound Bible teaching in a quiet environment where the minister actually teaches and the congregation is focused on that teaching and do not get emotionally involved.
There was a lot of shouting at the preacher while he delivered his sermon in this charismatic church and I was just not into that so I had left early. I was more interested in finding a church that held solid, intellectual, respectful services, but that also believed in hearing from God, feeling God's presence, healings, conversions, deliverance, and discipleship. There must be something better out there for me I thought. There must be other people somewhere that are at the place that I am at in my life. I just had to keep searching for a church that fit well with me. So my search continued.
July 26th, 2009
The next Sunday, July 26, 2009, I again drove far from home to attend a church service. I did stay for the entire service at this church, although it too, was charismatic. There was forty-five minutes of music before the service even began. I thought that was too much music, but I sat through it anyway. The sermon kept my attention, but the minister mentioned he wanted to try some new things in the church and I was just not interested. He also did not greet people as they were leaving the sanctuary. I was not that impressed with this service also, so I pressed on and a week later on August 2nd, 2009 I attended my third church service.
August 2nd, 2009
This service seemed very old fashioned to me. It seemed to be a typical evangelical church. I did not see the slightest hint of anything charismatic during the service. Old hymns were sung during the service which, to me, was very boring. I noticed many people got up and left. But I decided to stay it out till the end. The minister did greet at the end of the service, but did not greet me, which I thought she should have since I was an unfamiliar face in the crowd. Some of the ladies did speak to me, but very casually. I again, was not impressed with this service, nor this church. I have heard people say that some churches "are dead" and this church sure seemed to have no life in it. So far I had attended two charismatic churches and one evangelical church. I was not impressed with any of them. Was there a happy medium out there somewhere?
August 9th, 2009
This was the most entertaining church so far on my journey. The service began with music and singing that was modern and upbeat. Each singer had their own microphone and the preacher was one of the singers. The singing was incorporated into the sermon. Songs were sung, the minister would preach a bit, then more songs were song, then he would preach again. It was very entertaining and inspiring, but his sermon was not very good. I spoke to people I sat with during the service to get a history of the church. After the service I was drawn to an older gentleman at the back of the church. So I stopped to speak with him. I learned that he was the minister's father who also was a minister. I enjoyed this church, but it was more entertaining than educational, so my search continued.
August 16th, 2009
When I walked through the doors of this church there were no greeters at the entrance. This was a very large church yet not one single person talked to me. No one even approached me as I made my way to the sanctuary. I initiated a conversation with two people. I felt right away that this was a very strange church. There were cameras in the sanctuary and the service was being taped. It smelled like dirty diapers in the sanctuary. The music was great, but the service was not impressive. People were constantly moving around, going in and out, and it was a bit noisy. There was just a lot of business and commotion going on during the service while the minister was preaching. I could not understand why people were so unsettled. There was not a warm feeling in this church and I just felt uneasy being there. I left early and felt relieved to be out of there.
August 23th, 2009
I decided to visit another large church on my list. There were greeters at the entrance to the church, and as I entered the sanctuary right away I noticed how quiet it was. There was not the usual chit chat going on inside. There were no crying babies, no smell of dirty diapers, and in fact, I did not even see a child in the congregation. I later learned that the children, as well as the teenagers, had their own service in another area of the church. The music began and consisted of modern upbeat songs with a live band. The music lasted for thirty minutes followed by communion, announcements, tithes and introduction of the Senior Pastor who preached this Sunday. The congregation consisted of adults who were very quiet and very focused on the minister and his message. WOW! I thought. That is highly unusual. The quietness is what impressed me the most. The congregation seemed to highly respect the minister and he seemed to hold their attention for the full forty-five minutes that he preached. Not only did he preach, he talked about Jesus as if he really knew Him. Wow! I thought. Does he know Jesus like I know Jesus? It sort of sounds like it. So after the service he invited people to talk to him in the lobby. So I did. I asked him a few questions and also asked him about the singles group that I had noticed on a pamphlet. He introduced me to the singles coordinator and I was given some information and even offered a basic tour of the church on the first floor. This church has three floors. I later ate at the inside cafe and browsed around the inside bookstore. I really enjoyed this church and could not find anything negative about it. I picked up their monthly magazine that was loaded with information and returned home.
August 30th, 2009
This next church I visited was a very small church. The songs were upbeat, but boring and repetitive. The congregation seemed to consist of mostly couples. They did not have a sermon today because they were talking about small groups. I talked with a few people after the service for about one hour. I liked the church but felt I would not have fit in because there seemed to be mostly couples there and after talking with some people, that seemed to be the case.
September 6th, 2009
Did not attend any services today because I was out of town visiting relatives.
September 13th, 2009
This church I visited today was a typical evangelical church with bible classes after the service. I sat in on a singles bible class to get the feel of it. It was okay, but I sure missed the service at the church I visited on August 23rd, 2009. So after the bible class I drove over to that church for service. I was again impressed with the entire church and the service.
September 20th, 2009
I attended the bible study only at the typical evangelical church with bible classes after the service. The teacher and I got into a small squabble so I left and never returned for class or service again. I drove over to the large church that had impressed me for service there.
September 27th, 2009
Attended the large church that I began to like more and more. Spent some time looking over brochures and magazines that were available at the kiosk. This church offered a variety of learning opportunities and events. They also had small groups that met in individual homes scattered throughout the city.
October 4th, 2009
Again, attended service at the large church that I enjoyed. I had heard that the church was offering a Bible study on the Gospel of John so I decided to attend.
October 5th, 2009
Attended the first Bible class on the Gospel of John at the large church that I was attending. This was a weekly class that met every Monday evening. I continued in this class until we had studied the entire Gospel of John, which took one and one-half years to complete. Then I stayed in this class as we moved on to study other New Testament books in the Bible.
October 11th, 2009
Attended services at the large church I was attending regularly. Although this church was evangelical, it was not your typical evangelical church. It had aspects of charismatic experiences and practices, but evangelism was the priority. There was no hoopla going on during the services but the church has combined the intellectual mind of the evangelical with the emotions of the charismatic. They focus on Scripture and place a high priority on the Word of God. During the service they are committed to Scripture and teaching. After the service, however, prayer is conducted for those who come forward, with a belief that healing could take place. If healing does not occur they believe that it is not because of a lack of faith or because of sin in one's life, it is because the kingdom of God has not fully arrived. They believe in hearing from God, feeling God's presence, deliverance, conversion and discipleship. Evangelism is their priority, but they believe that supernatural manifestations can and do occur. They believe that God does intervene. Even though I enjoyed the services at this large church and their beliefs matched up with my beliefs, and I attended services there regularly and was taking Bible classes there, I attended a few more churches before my search ended.
October 18th, 2009
The church I attended today was a very small church with a very old minister. It was also very boring. It was a typical evangelical church where old hymns were sung and individual singers would take stage to sing a song. I never returned.
October 25th, 2009
The church I attended today was a very nice church with very nice people. It was a small church, but the minister spent a great deal of time talking to me and so did several of the people there. They all went out of their way to make me feel welcomed. I told the pastor that I was attending services regularly at a different church but was still searching for a home church. He said he would have no problem with me attending services and social events at his church as well as me attending services at the other church. I later learned that many people attend more than one church in this large city. It was a very sweet church with very sweet people, but I felt it was not a match for me.
November 1st, 2009
I attended service at the large church today and decided to make it my home church. I was attending Bible classes at this church and learning so much there and really enjoyed the services at the church. I felt like it was a good fit for me and decided to stay. From here on in I decided to attend services regularly at this church and it felt so good to be home.
Good To Be Home