Monday, December 22, 2008

Church Shopping

I am going to start by saying if I could move all of Bay Area Community Church to Hagerstown... I would. I miss Bay Area so much.

I miss the fellowship. I had been attending for about 14 years and I made some great friends there... I had history and I knew people.

I miss the physical structure. It was our new debt free building. It was large but yet remained simple and to the point.

I miss the feeling of belonging. Adam volunteered with the Bay Cafe (making coffee) and with Crossroads (doing the V part of AV). I was a nursery volunteer (with the exception of the year Chase was born ;~) We had places to serve.

Most of all, I miss Greg, the senior pastor. I had a connection with him that I will always treasure. He married my mom and step dad, he married Adam and I and he presided over my mother's funeral. Life altering moments and he was there. I also miss his sermons. Each and everyone got to me. He has the knack of knowing just what to say and how to say it. He was funny, entertaining, knowledgeable and poignant. It takes a lot to keep my attention and he always had it. I miss being fed by his sermons.

Have I gotten the point across that I miss my old church?

That being said, Adam and I have been on the hunt for a new church. Now with the background info you just learned... you can imagine I have pretty high standards. I struggle with each church... is it a good church and I am just not giving it a fair shake because of my prejudice or am I right to hold a church to this standard?

A couple of the churches have been nice... we just haven't felt the connection. I am not sure if that happens on the first or second try but I imagine it's a little like meeting the person you eventually marry. The moment I saw Adam I thought he was adorable and I got butterflies... I didn't know then that we would eventually be married but there was a spark. I think that is what should happen when I am in the right church.... I don't know if we will end up attending but there is a spark. Am I right to wait for that or is it an impossibility and I am shortchanging the church?

We have been to one church where we left knowing that we most definitely would not be back. I am not one for writing off anything quickly but almost as soon as we entered, I knew it wouldn't be the place for us. Unfriendly nursery staff, windowless nursery rooms, (IMO) an unhealthy attachment to Joel Osteen, a 'rock band' worship team with songs that were impossible to sing along to, a woman giving the sermon who had many anecdotes about her children but frightfully little scripture... and even more terrifying, a warped view on the difference between DNA and social issues. I digress... I hesitate speaking ill of a church but I was more than a little frightened.

So our search continues.

One of the most frustrating things about searching is the childcare. I won't leave Chase in a nursery when I don't know the people watching him, what the standards and rules are and what the atmosphere is like. So that means Adam and I have to keep an active 1 year old still for at least a solid hour. As you can imagine that doesn't happen very often. Usually I end up leaving the service and hanging out in the nursery... not a bad deal if you want to know more about the childcare. However, on one such occasion we were in the nursery/toddler room there was a 10 month old, Chase (1 year old), a 2 year old, a 5 year old and a 7 year old. I tried to do a little digging as to why there were so many different ages and the woman who was 'in charge' had to ask her daughter (14 years old)... who didn't understand what she was asking (in the daughters defense the mother was not being clear)... so really it was the 'who's on first' conversation of church childcare... and I never got my answer. The only thing I did find out... not one of the kids were related to each other, which would have made at least a little sense. In addition, I found a small bead (probably from a child's broken bracelet) on the floor. I am sure it was innocent enough but this is also a piece of plastic that could cause my inquisitive child to stop breathing and die.

Again, I am comparing these nurseries with Bay Area's nursery... and Bay Area's nursery was phenomenal. There were always at least 2 adults in each room... and on top of that at least 1 -2 helpers (teenagers). They followed Maryland code for the ratio of children to adults; 3:1 for babies and toddlers and 5:1 for 2's and up... usually far exceeding the ratio. There were sign in sheets, corresponding numbered bracelets, an 'in charge' person overseeing the whole Sunday morning operation... and my favorite, a numbering system that would discreetly let you know when your child was inconsolable and you were needed. Anyone that knows Chase knows that was necessary for us.

So these 'rinky dink' childcare operations scare me a little.

Anyway, I think I am just venting here. I know we will eventually find the place for us... it's just way more difficult than I thought. I never really worried about this before... I ended up at Bay Area because that is where my mom started going... this is my first church hunt as an adult ;~) Look at me grow!


Anonymous said...

Church hunting is difficult. There are so many things that need to be "just right" when it comes to finding a church. It took Craig and I over a year to decide on a church and we are very happy with the one we chose. They love babies and children and the pastor is wonderful to listen to. Keep hunting, you'll find the right fit somewhere. I agree with you, you can usually tell in 1 or 2 visits.
Love ya, Jaime

KiKi said...

i know how you feel we love chesapeake chistion fellowship in davidsonville before we moved to the ES we have yet to find one like it and have tried almost every church in town! But we are very picky nothing is going to be like CCF

chocolate hug said...

Wow, it sounds like you have a lot of options where you live. Our city is the same way, lots of churches, but the content of said churches can be very very very questionable.

It was interesting to read your comments on the child care situation. I've only been a member of one church where child care was offered. My mother made a point of us always being together as a family in church and that's something we decided to do with Sam. Now it's probably easier for me than it would be for you since the members at our church help with Sam during the service. We have a no standing, no walking rule, and when I can't keep Sam happy I pass him on to my hubby, mother in law or friend. It really makes a big difference knowing people at a church...reading your blog made me realize how much I love the people at mine, and I should probably let them know how much I appreciate the help!

I will keep you in my prayers as you search.

Johnnie Avocado said...

yeah...looking for a church is tough, but I'm also getting the feeling that you might be TOO comfortable with your old church. Nothing is going to live up, because that church molded you, and you are really "stuck" in their ways. I hear ya' on the Joel Osteen thing, and Rick Warren! ARGH!

I've seen it many times before with my friends. They want to feel accepted in a church. That doesn't mean that the church is good for your faith. There are so many things to consider, that it makes it very difficult. See where prayer takes you.