Once a month, I like to take my kids to another church in the area to see how they “do” church. I usually go on a Saturday evening, or Sunday evening…sometimes to a special event…so far, I’ve seen 6 churches in the area…some I’ve visited more than once, others I think I’ll only visit once.
The reason I take the kids with me on these adventures is two-fold…1. It gives daddy time to study for his classes and 2. It helps remind me of what its like to be new at church. I fill out the visitor card (sometimes making up the info), I go through the check-in for my kids and try to find the rooms (many times easier said than done), I sit and try to “blend in” to the crowd…
Have you ever been “Church Shopping”? It seems to be a cripplingly new term that is redefining the ideas centered around church membership. You see, it becomes more of a game to see which church has all the “goods” in town…which church offers the best programing, the best experience, the songs I like, the people I enjoy…whew…when did church get SO complicated? Yet, every time I go to a different church I go through the mental checklist in my brain too…sometimes even venturing into the comparison trap, “What do they have that we don’t” (swallow hard)…
The truth is, the more I go to different churches, the more I see why it is SO hard to get the lost into any church walls. It feels uncomfortable, every church has a routine (which outsiders don’t know) and many churches now don’t publicize their core beliefs…so many people have no idea what they are walking into.
Yet, I keep going to other churches once a month, as uncomfortable as it may be for one reason…I want to remember MONTHLY the feeling of being “new” and initially lost (at least lost physically in a sense of a new building, new people, etc). It makes me rethink ministry every month in a whole new way and how to make families feel “at home” from the moment they enter.
I want families to find God…experiencing Him through worship, service, making friends that they can do life with and plugging in to our ministry that is so much bigger than four walls. I know when families find God, they will find roots and grow. So many churches offer a great “show” but life is too short for entertaining religion. The true seeker is craving relationships…they want to connect.
Oh the things I learn through these experiences…and the ministry networking that has occurred has been great too!
God, help me never forget the feeling of being lost…for it was there that You saw me for who I was and envisioned who I am becoming. I am Yours.