We visited a church here for the first time today. How did we decide which church to attend?
We researched churches on the internet, of course!
In the past, while we have been in Florida, we have gone to "mega" churches. The worship was awesome, they had phenomenal kids programs, coffee shops, and even several restaurants. At the one church, they handed us a map, so we could find our way around the converted shopping center, that had been turned into a church.
And while the people were friendly enough, there were just so MANY of them, it was all a bit overwhelming, and we felt like tiny guppies in the middle of the ocean.
This year, my oldest daughter asked if we could attend a smaller church. She felt that it would be easier to get to know people better there than at the mega churches.
So, we looked. And looked. And looked some more. There are SO many to choose from!
Finally, we narrowed it down to two. I told Hubs to just choose one, and we would go.
And so....we went.
The church was smaller, but there were a lot of young people congregated outside. It's always a good sign when you see lots of young people at church!
As we entered the building, we noticed something.
No coffee shops.
No one handed us a map to help us find our way around.
As soon as we entered the children's area, we were warmly greeted by the director. She proceeded to talk to us, and made us feel very welcome. She told us all about the kids programs, and actually talked to our girls, instead of over them, and asked them questions. She was incredibly friendly and kind.
She then walked us over to meet the associate pastor. He was also very friendly, and seemed genuinely pleased to meet us. He led us into the sanctuary, and told us that he looked forward to talking more to us after the service.
For a small church, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a full worship band, including drums, and they sang modern songs that we knew.
We were very glad that as the new people, we were not required to stand up so everyone could clap for us. I do not like to stand out, and whenever we have been to churches that require this, I am always embarrassed.
Why do churches think that this is a good idea anyway? OK, so we're the new people. No need to put us on display.
At this church, we simply filled out a comment card that stated that we were new to the church. That's it! Much nicer.
The pastor was a very interesting speaker, and even had a sense of humor, which is always a plus in my book. He talked about relationships; our relationships with people, and our relationship with God. He said that all relationships come with a cost, but one that we are willing to pay. He mentioned that just like us, the disciples were ordinary people, with ordinary lives.....until they met Jesus.
Many people are scared to come to Jesus because of what it might cost them. They think that Christianity is just a bunch of rules and regulations. And for some people, that's all it ever is.
A big set of rules that must be followed.
But, it is so much more than that. It is a relationship. And if we let him, Jesus will change us, but for the good. Slowly. He never forces or manipulates us, but he waits for US to be ready.
Just like the disciples, he can give us a whole new purpose.
And like Peter....a new name.
After the service, we met the youth director, and the pastor. They were both very friendly and talkative, and they encouraged our children to get involved for the time that we are going to be here.
On our way back to the car, the children's director told us that she hoped she would see us again next Sunday.
My youngest daughter loved the kids program, and met several girls her own age, and my older girls are looking forward to going to youth group.
We will definitely be going back next Sunday.
It seems that although this church is smaller than the ones we have been to in the past, it has the potential to impact us in a much larger way.
And that is much better than any coffee shop or restaurant.