life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between

Our Search for a Church.

14 Comments

Today we drove out to Lancaster to visit a church many of our friends attend. It was quite a commute for church, but we are kind of desperate.

As it turns out, church is an imperative thing in our lives and in our marriage. We need to hear the Word taught to us, we need to worship from the heart, and we need other people to care about us spiritually.

We’ve spent a lot of time searching for the right church home, since before we even started dating…

After college, I worked for a local church for a year and half, and that experience did a lot of damage to me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I had a hard time feeling like I was free to worship in that church or that anyone cared about me spiritually. On top of that, deep wounds were directly inflicted on me from some of my fellow staff members.

I left that job incredibly discouraged, self-conscious, and frustrated; I felt purposeless, which was a very difficult thing for me to sort through without becoming depressed and doubting God. It was very difficult for me to even be physically present in a church for almost a full year after leaving.

Thankfully, God patiently and meticulously repaired my heart during that time and motivated me to go back to church in February of 2010. Since then, I have had a strong desire to be back in church. Dayne’s been with me on this search the whole way, and I am so grateful for that because I don’t think I would do it alone. One thing many churches lack is an outreach to visitors; a warm welcome is sorely missing in most of the area churches I’ve visited. I don’t know how this is not a priority, because it seems to me that including visitors should be the first thing churches should be focused on because it’s what Jesus calls us to do.

We’ve repeatedly visited three different churches over the past approximately two years, and we barely received a “hello” at any of them. This morning, we shifted to our fourth church.

We need people who are going to seek to know us. We need people who are going to invite and encourage us to become involved. We need people who are going to mentor us and hold us accountable in attendance as well as spiritual health. We need people who are going to partner in joy with us in life and love us deeply, who we can partner with and love in return.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, is meant to do life alone. Dayne and I have to put in our effort to build relationships and involvement, but we really would like to attend a place where it is not 99% our effort with 1% feedback. We’d like it to be closer to 50/50.

All of that is why we sucked up the commute and drove an hour away to church this morning… because at least we knew there were people there who know us, love and care about us, and would be happy to see us (and vice versa). And while it’s hard to admit sometimes, we really need that. We need the warm and fuzzy, because we’ve gone way too long with the cold and distant.

For Dayne and me, the most important thing in our lives is our relationship with Christ – and we need to take proactive (and sometimes difficult) steps to nourish and nurture it. For the health of ourselves and the health of our marriage.

We don’t know if this church is going to become our church home, but we at least know that we’re on the first step and we have the motivation to pursue. I wrote on our visitors’ card under prayer requests this morning that the staff would pray that God would lead us to the right church. We don’t want to make this about us, but we want to make ourselves ready for and responsive to God. We are hoping to reestablish a strong foundation.

Have any of you had to settle into a church where you didn’t know anybody? Have any of you had a difficult church experience? Have any of you had an extraordinary church experience? Do any of you have any advice on finding and/or making a church home? This is one entry in particular where I would really appreciate your comments and feedback. Thanks for reading šŸ™‚

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Author: lisadanielle

I love Jesus, I have a lot of flaws, and I'm seeking a life of abundant joy. That sums it up pretty nicely, actually.

14 thoughts on “Our Search for a Church.

  1. Pingback: Things I Learned This Week… « life of faith

  2. Hey Lisa,

    I’ve been reading your blog off and on and just had to stop to read this one. A church family is so so important in any Christian’s life and esp a newly married couple. Continue to be diligent in you search and do not settle just to finish looking; God has somewhere absolutely perfect waiting for you! If you are making the drive up to the Manor area, come have a Sunday morning at Central Manor, right up the road as Dayne knows. You would know a few loving people there as well and a few months ago we just started a newly marrieds class. I know its a hall but you guys are always welcome! I just started a new website (still in the works so ignore the oddness) so check it out! I will be praying for you in your search, God IS Faithful!

    http://www.mxgrfx.snappages.com

    Dan

    • Hey Dan! Thanks so much for reading my blog and for leaving a caring comment šŸ™‚ I appreciate you understanding and encouraging us!

      I will add Central Manor to our list of places to check out; I know Brian and Katie go there since I talked with Brian at Andy & Leah’s wedding (we missed you there, by the way!). If we could find a newly marrieds class, that would be ideal! We’ll let you know when we can come; it would be great to see you.

      The website also looks great! Dayne said you were good with web design, and I can see it.

      Thank you so much for the prayers – that is what we need most!

  3. I am in complete agreement with Renae! God will put you in a church that is perfect for you! A place where you can be yourself, and you WILL be used by God in that church!

    I really am sorry that the church is in such a…disarray? It is so hard when you have been hurt by people… especially when they are supposed to be followers of Christ.

    Growing up in a pastor’s home, I would like to leave you with some advice… When you do find that church home. That place that you KNOW God wants you. Do not give up on your ministry. God is going to place both you and Dayne in a perfect niche. Because God will begin to use you, Satan is going to attack you left and right… Do not allow Satan to weasel his way into your calling! Stick with it! I know that you and Dayne have a great calling on your life, you will touch so many people… even through your blog! Keep pushing. Keep seeking God… DO NOT GIVE UP!! šŸ˜€

    • Thank you so, so much for leaving such an encouraging comment! Spiritually, I am so inspired by feedback like yours. I take all of it to heart as we keep going — and you’re right, we will encounter resistance. The process has been difficult so far, and we know that a lot of that is Satan trying to keep us from going to church at all. But we are sure that our relationship with God and serving others through it is the most important thing in our lives, and we have to fight for that.

      At least the challenge is motivating šŸ™‚

      Thank you for being so honest and compassionate. Praying blessings for you!

  4. I totally know that feeling! We were part of the church plant for Providence, but when we got married we started to search for a morning service. Something that went a bit deeper, some place we could attend and grow as a family in the future. I can’t tell you how many churches we went to, feeling unable to connect and invisible. We finally went to Christ Community and felt at home! People openly greeted us and made us feel welcome. The one pastor pushed us towards joining a small group, and now those couples are some of our closest friends. It may take awhile, but you will find where you are suppose to be. šŸ™‚ Until then, you just have to stay faithful in your search. Good luck!

    P.S. What church did you attend in Lancaster?

    • Hi Renae! Thank you for taking the time to comment… and it’s such a relief to hear that you understand what we’re going through. And it’s also nice for me to hear that some of your goals in finding a church are some of our goals!

      So cool that you ended up at Christ Community – I went there for years growing up. It definitely is a wonderful church. It’s awesome that you’ve developed such amazing relationships with other couples in your small group. I hope we get to have a similar experience wherever we end up! Thank you for the good wishes and encouragement šŸ™‚

      We went to Manor Church in Lancaster – are you familiar with it?

  5. Good questions Lisa! I feel your pain. At around age 23, I was treated very badly by the church I was raised in, and have never returned. I don’t really want to return to the religion in which I was raised, and my husband isn’t a huge fan of his religion, so we struggle with this too. We have found that Pebble Hill in Doylestown, an interfaith church, is a very warm and welcoming church, not so much based on rigid religious beliefs but more toward spiritual growth and caring about others. I would love to say we go often but we don’t (after Saturday’s of weddings, I want to sleep in and just spend Sunday’s lazy and with my husband). However, once we have children and it becomes more of a priority, this is probably where we will go. I also really like the Unitarian Church of Germantown. It’s a gorgeous church, and also welcomes everybody.
    Good luck on your search!

    • Hi Stacey!! Thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving a comment. I’m so sorry to hear that you had a bad (maybe even traumatizing) experience — I wish those things never happened.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve found a place that is warm and caring… and I totally understand the desire to sleep in and have a nice, lazy Sunday morning together! We struggle with that, too – and we just try (again and again) to discipline ourselves to get into a routine. Your schedule is a LITTLE crazier than either of ours, though!!

      Thank you for the recommendations and for sharing your thoughts šŸ™‚ Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  6. Interesting read. I would encourage you and your husband to continue to look for the “right church.” I don’t believe what you’re doing is making it about you, unless it’s only about finding a place that pleases you instead of looking for a place to grow and serve, but it doesn’t sound like you are doing it for that.

    I don’t know what area you and your husband live in but have you ever visited with a congregation of the churches of Christ? Just wondering.

    • Hi Eugene! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment; it is truly appreciated! Thank you for putting into words what I sometimes struggle with – not wanting a church to “work for me” necessarily (entertain and please me), but wanting to find a church where my husband & I can grow, develop relationships, and branch out.

      I don’t think either of us has ever visited a Church of Christ, but we’ll certainly keep it in mind as we continue searching!

      Wishing you a wonderful day, wherever you are šŸ™‚

  7. Happened across your site and can surely relate to your desire for the warmth of a loving church. But be reminded that the Spirit is the only faithful teacher, the only faithful friend, and the source of all one needs. With Him as the source, we become servants to those we encounter. We don’t seek what a church can do for us…but what we can do for the church. It is in giving that we receive and in loving that we are loved. Best wishes to the both of you as you begin your life together.

    • Hey – thanks for leaving such a thoughtful response. I really appreciate it! I agree with you in that it’s unhealthy to look strictly for what you can get out of a church, but I also wholeheartedly believe that we’re created for community and relationship with God and with one another. I have seen what happens when people are isolated and become burned out from serving without any love or appreciation returned in a church. I just think, like with a lot of things in life, it’s a balance. We need encouragement and accountability from others, sometimes, to be able to seek and be filled by God, who is our ultimate Lover.

      Thank you for reading and for the good wishes! šŸ™‚

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