Thursday, May 12, 2016
Looking for a church
We are back to church shopping again. Ugh. I hate it. I hate the term "church shopping" too. I probably didn't care much for people who used to do it either. But here we are...
At the moment we are kind of torn between three different church communities: ZUB, C2G, and Grace Gathering. They all three have their positives and negatives. We aren't really concerned with negatives - we aren't looking for a perfect church - but we are more or less feeling a bit lost at the moment.
We have pretty much been attending Grace since we left Fairview. It's a much bigger church than we are used to, and bigger than the other two. They actually have a very nice Sunday morning "show." The music is top-notch, the speakers are generally good, it is very relaxed and casual. Personally, I look forward to attending Sunday mornings - somewhat like I look forward to a Tincaps ballgame or a concert. It's an exciting place to go, for me. It is also where our daughter and her family attend.
I think our problem with Grace is that we just don't seem to fit. We have met some people, and tried to get involved in some things, but we just haven't "clicked" with anyone. The leaders are all pretty off-limits for regular people like us, and the small group we were in - while they were great people - was just not a place where we felt like we had anything in common with anyone else. I was also referred to as "old" one too many times. And... there's the charismatic influence thing. I'm not sure how that will go, but I feel a little uneasy with some things. So.... who knows.
We have visited C2G (short for "Come 2 Go") every once in awhile since it first started. I've written about what they do before, but it is basically something I envisioned while in seminary. Their building is set up like a night club and serves as a concert venue. They actually have some fairly big-name secular artists, and it is a state of the art set-up. However, the church was also on the cutting edge of the whole "missional" thing, before it was even a word.
We have attended a lot of concerts there, and do enjoy their Sunday morning worship times. It is not at all the polished "event" like at Grace (which is a positive). It's even more casual than Grace's service, and we really like the main pastor's preaching. He is very low-key and appears very humble. He has introduced himself a couple times, but other than that we've never talked. One of the good things is that he has no idea what our history is. Another thing I really like about the Sunday service is that they serve communion every week. I don't know why that is such a thing for me now.
We feel like we fit better with the people here than at Grace. Grace is more the "popular" crowd; sort of a "fraternity church." C2G is more urban and they are people we are more likely to run into at concerts and shows and things we attend downtown. Both of these churches are rather unorthodox in that seating is at tables and plastic chairs; no one "dresses up"; and C2G particularly has a lot of people who didn't grow up thinking there was a certain way you're supposed to "act" in church. They are both full of pretty genuine people, but Grace people probably fall more on the "successful" side of life, and C2G people probably fall more on the "normal" side (in our view).
The negatives to C2G are that we don't know anyone there. It is also affiliated with the Lutheran church, and we aren't at all familiar with what that means (though it probably doesn't matter). They do, however, have Sunday School and Bible Studies and things like that - which Grace does not have.
Zanesville United Brethren church is pretty much just what we are used to. It is similar to what we came from in Illinois, and very near to what we were part of at Fairview. Tom (the pastor) and I are best of friends, and I have always said that if I were ever going to be on a church "staff" anywhere, he is probably about the only person I could work with and that could work with me. We are very similar and seem to have similar views on life, theology, and ministry. He is one of the handful of people who I feel like understands me, and he's one of the few people willing to speak into my life the things I need to hear.
Sunday mornings are "nice" at ZUB. It's familiar. The preaching is good. We do actually know a few people (or at least we know of one another). They also have Sunday School, Bible Studies, small groups and whatnot (which we like). It is probably the most formal of the three, but only because they have "pew chairs" and Tom will occasionally wear a tie. It is generally very laid back and, again, comfortable for us.
The biggest roadblock for me is that I feel like at some point it's going to come out that, "Oh, he used to be the pastor at Fairview." I don't know that anyone really knows, or cares, what happened there, but I admit that the thought of it bothers me somewhat. It's kind of like when you see someone that recently got divorced - even if you don't know anything about it, or why or what happened - there's still an awkwardness. This has nothing to do with the people there, but solely in my own head. Still, it's there. The church is also... in Zanesville. Not really our neck of the woods, or even our county.
So, in laying things out, I can't really say that I know what to do. I was hoping writing this out might bring some clarity. It hasn't. I don't know if it's better to just pick one and say we're just going to dive in... Or if it's one of those things that we need to wander for awhile longer. Or, maybe there's something else. Maybe another church group we haven't discovered yet; or maybe we're still supposed to start something ourselves. I don't know. In the meantime, it's not a lot of fun. I feel bad for Jane and myself because we are so unconnected, but I also feel bad for the churches because they probably don't know what to think or do either. And... I'm not sure if there is anything anyone can do. Perhaps it simply comes down to a day-to-day decision to seek God's will, listen for the Spirit's guidance, and live into where we are at any given moment.