Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back on the Search Again?

A few of you were reading this blog back when I was whining about how long it was taking us to find a new church after our move. Looking back now, I wonder why I was in such a hurry. Well, no, I do know. We needed connections. The girls needed friends. We needed a place to belong.

We've been attending Sunnybrook Community Church since about January. A big church (at least, big by our standards) -- 1200 in attendance each week. Reformed by denomination, but they don't talk about that much. Quite evangelical. Rather seeker-focused. Pretty contemporary. Lots of emphasis on community service. Lots of emphasis on the kids' and youth ministries. Good reputation in the community. As I've said before, God seems to be working in this place.

Yet, we're not convinced that this is the place God wants us. Which is a problem because we're now connected in a lot of ways. Kind of a Catch-22 situation: you have to plunge in and get involved in order to meet people and find out what a church is really all about. But once you do that, if you decide you're not about what the church is about, you've now made connections that are harder to cut.

Not that there's anything wrong with this church. It just doesn't feel right for us somehow. The connections we've made aren't exactly social ties; we know people--and they're nice people--but we haven't really bonded with anyone.

So many of the things that don't feel comfortable to us seems to be "style" preferences. The worship service feels too polished -- too much like a performance we're there to witness rather than worship we're there to participate in. And a lot of little stylistic things are what figure into that: dark sanctuary, big video screens, etc. I keep thinking, we'll just get used to that . . or it isn't that important . .

But our hands may be forced soon. The new worship minister asked to meet with me this week. He's wanting to "raise the bar" on the drama program and wants me to pray about being involved in the leadership with that. (Sidenote: this man hardly knows me. What made him think I was the person for this? Hmmm.) Accepting such a role would not only require our staying in the church . . . it would also require me to be actively involved in helping create the worship environment that I'm not feeling comfortable with. Will being on the inside make me more comfortable? Will I be able to be a positive influence on the situation? Who knows. But as exciting an opportunity as it sounds like, I don't have much peace with the idea.

I think we're going to start exploring other churches again -- like, Keith and I taking turns each Sunday visiting elsewhere, and we'll see if we feel a pull in another direction. I'm just not sure where else we would go. As I recall now, one of my frustrations in the church search was how few great options there seemed to be out there......


Vianelli and Eastin said...

But I like SunnyBrook! :::::::(((((((( (means really sad)

Anonymous said...

I see that there is some disagreement with the family direction here. I have been pondering this post now for a number of days.

Choosing a church (or not choosing one) because of the style seems so juvenile-ish yet we all do this with the church we select. There are much more important items... like are they teaching and living the Word of God? Are they reaching out to the lost? Are they being faithful stewards with the resources that God provided?

However, some of the style issues are also a concern to me. For example, does the music speak of Jesus or does it seem to be vague and reference God in a non-specific manner? It really bothers me that a lot of new so-called Christian praise/worship music never even mentions Jesus. It also bothers me when a previously secular song was slightly changed and now it is suddenly a Christian song.

I have heard complaints about the video screens in the past. Personally I am really in favor of using them for the words to the songs. I love to have my hands free so that I can lift them up when I am singing. I love to be free to look up and interact with those around me. Nothing bothers me more than a bunch of Christians singing praise and worship with their heads in their hymnals and never looking up. I have the same problem with a choir who sticks their heads in their music. They never look like they are joyful - in fact they look downright grumpy.

Ok - having vented a bit about my pet peeves, let me just say that you need to make sure you understand what is really bothering you. Is it the style or are you sensing an underlying problem? Being "polished" is not necessarily bad. Our praise band is quite polished but I never feel like it is a performance. Our praise leader does just that... lead us all into worship. The dark sanctuary can bother some people. I personally like it for the worship time because it helps me focus on why I am there... but if it weren't dark, that would also be ok with me.

I does sound like Eastin doesn't like the idea of changing churches. I know you know this but make sure you understand what about this church your kids really like. This may be that stability that they need right now as so much transition has happened to them this past year.

GJK said...

Yes, you're right about all of that, Chief. Like I said, none of this was that big a deal to me until I was asked to be a part of leading the drama team. I'm just afraid that if I'm working with the staff planning these services, eventually what is only a minor annoyance now will start to bother me enough to intrude on my own worship.

Anonymous said...

Irene often comments that she just doesn't want to know the politics of the church. I know what she means because once you are "on the inside," the warts become more apparent. I think that is somewhat true in your case. As you become more involved, the things that bother you become more magnified.