Last night, I overheard my husband reading our 19 month old daughter her bedtime story. As the book finished up and he closed it, she responded with an enthusiastic ' Amen!.' I definitely felt my heart melting.
But it really got me thinking about the search we've been on for the last few years. We haven't really had what I'd call a church 'home' since we've been married. Part of this has been because we've both had major problems with what I'd call 'traditional' church and its structure. We're more fans of a simple church model, with less emphasis on the regular church trappings. Things like 5-6 pastors, youth groups, a big building, lots of employees, nurseries where your child has to have a computerized name tag to keep track of him/her, even the landscaping companies hired to care for the church grounds. Not that these things are wrong per se, but we've more affinity with a smaller, closely knit, New-Testament style gathering. Ultimately where we probably belong is a house church, but neither of us feel we're ready or qualified to start something like that right now.
That being said, we live in the heart of Illinois, in a white collar town literally brimming with large churches and their equally large budgets. We spent a few years at one church, but it didn't feel right, so we kept looking. And looking. Finally, a few months ago I stumbled upon a small gathering of families, and it seemed promising. We've been attending and slowly getting to know people. There is no nursery or kids church, so that has been an interesting challenge. Toddlers generally don't like to sit still for an hour or more, but we're making progress. A lot of the families home school, and we haven't for sure decided what to do with school for our kids. But the people are very loving, and the teaching and emphasis on raising Godly families is spot on. When the women there learned we were expecting our 2nd ( while having virtually just met us), they were thrilled and already talking about a baby shower! Crazy. There are virtually no 'programs', but occasional men or women's breakfasts, a couples Bible study, etc. Something I love- the pastor has a full time job outside of the church. He is paid no salary. They have no building. Tithes and offerings can be spent however they choose in the community, which I think is fantastic.
I'm cautiously hopeful that maybe we've found our home for now. Tomorrow night we are having dinner with the pastor and his family, to get to know one another better and talk over some issues. Community is so essential in the life of a believer, and we've been sorely lacking it for several years. Much of the time I feel as though I'm fumbling around in the dark when it comes to being a wife and mother, so the prospect being able to look to older, more experienced women is super exciting. So if you're the praying kind, maybe say a little pray that our dinner goes well and we'd be willing to go ahead and dive in?