Continued from Looking For A Church Part 2.
I’m staying in a place like this!!
I joined the church I’ve been attending today. I’ve been considering it for awhile now, but haven’t really mentioned that here because I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. I wanted this to be my decision, and don’t want to hurt, confuse, or upset anyone else through it.
Still… if you’re looking for a church, be encouraged.
I’ve always liked this church but there were a few points I thought we were in disagreement on that I hesitated about. And, I’d been going to churches and looking for what was wrong with them rather than what was right.
After asking a number of questions, observing people’s interactions with each other and others, taking lots of notes and praying about it, I’ve decided this is where I need to be. It seems to be an amazingly healthy church.
After my last questions, the pastor gave me a book that outlines their beliefs. Opening the book, I assumed I’d find a lot of scripture to back all kinds of opinions and interpretations of scripture. I braced myself for a long boring read. 🙂 And was amazed. There is time given to their understanding of God, baptism, communion and so forth, but there is equal time given to discussions of loving and respecting one another, of accepting each others’ differences even while each expressing their opinions when they feel led, of the worth and value of every individual on earth and so forth. Reading their “doctrinal” explanations, I found that they explained their views well, but often on non-essentials printed two or even three or more viewpoints, giving equal attention to the pros and cons of each view and restating acceptance of people no matter which view they held.
I’ve watched these people interact with each other, and know they live what they say they believe. I’ve been surprised as they accepted me even though they might well guess (or know) where I came from and what my beliefs might be. Never once in all my questions did the pastor disagree with me or argue for an opinion. He would state some different views and encourage me to read certain passages when asked, but for him that was the end of his part in it–it was my decision, my choice what to believe. He never went back and asked if I’d read anything or if I’d come to any decisions. The choice was mine. The respect that shows amazed me. I’ve watched them interact with each other too, concerned for each other, loving each other, focused on others rather than themselves (in a positive way). For instance last night they had a pool party. No one went off into little whispering groups. No one was excluded, no one was the center of attention. Everyone had someone. I didn’t see anyone off to the side, alone, and I didn’t see any groups off to the side talking. No one complained!
So after thinking about it and praying about it and studying everything out, I read or skimmed most of the book, and was surprised to find that I agreed with many things in the book, even things I thought I was alone in believing. I’ve known for a week or more that I’d be here for awhile. But though they would have accepted me whether I joined or not, I wanted to make a commitment and a public statement of that. This morning I did.
LOL and then I realized I hadn’t “prayed about it” in the Pentecostal sense. 😮 Mild panic set in for a minute… then I realized that I HAD prayed about it. For weeks (and months and years, less specifically). I’ve been praying that God would show me where to go and give me peace about it, showing me what choices to make. He did. My prayers the last few days haven’t been “God, show me.” No… rather, they’ve been “God, thank you!” Not thanks that I found a church to call home, but thanks that finally things like His grace and love started making more sense, and that I was seeing those in action through the people I was worshiping with. So I’d prayed and He’d already answered.
Yes, there’s more to the story, but yes, my mind, heart and conscience are all in agreement. And I’m happy.