Guys! This past weekend The Wee One attended his very first church service (and he did really well, sleeping through most of it), which brings me to the main point of this post, The Scottish and I are searching for a new church. Yes, again. I wrote about this before while we were living in Kansas City. Same topic, new city, so my apologies because I will be repeating myself slightly (intentionally for those newcomers to DH).
Life is really good right now for obvious reasons but in some ways I’m still adjusting to our move this past Jan. I’m back in Minnesota after 12 years away connecting with old friends but also trying to meet new ones. I’m spending lots of time with family but also starting my own new family. I’m happy to be in a familiar setting but at the same time it makes me feel stuck. Something is missing. I miss having a church life and I miss the community that comes with it. Plainly put, I need more God in my life.
If you don’t believe in God, just picture the universe, or a higher power, or whatever floats your boat, all types of spirituality are welcome here.
Since The Scottish is agnostic (but attends to support me) all the major church decisions are up to yours truly. The pressure to pick the “right” church for us is monumental and yet it’s never been this difficult for me in the past.
All my life I grew up attending church. We were members of a few different ones, but our main denomination was Congregational. Our entire family went not only every Sunday but we were involved in everything else as well. We participated in charity work, Sunday school, mission events, outreach, and were well-known in our church community. I met so many wonderful friends through my home church, some I still see to this day!
When I left for college I took a year off from church but found a yearning to be around like-minded people again and literally stumbled into a UCC church that happened to have an amazing and vibrant campus ministry program. Our group was so liberal we’d go out drinking and dancing together on Saturday night and then meet up for church the next morning. I met some of my best friends there and I’m still shocked that I found it by walking into the first church I spotted past the quad.
When I moved to Chicago I took another break, and attended a few different places before finding a Methodist church on a friend’s recommendation. The church was just what I needed at that time in my life and provided me with even more lovely friends! This particular Methodist church was bold in their political, economical, and cultural quests for justice and I learned a ton while going there. I even joined a committee! (If you know anything about church politics, you know that’s a big deal.) The Pastor was relaxed and cool and the congregation was predominately made up of 20 and 30 somethings.
The best churches I’ve attended in my life have been reconciling or progressive or more bluntly, gay-friendly. I absolutely refuse to worship somewhere not everyone is welcome, but that limits me in suburbia… a lot. As we search near our new house for a great church I’m getting more and more frustrated!
I have a list and while I’m willing to compromise, the ideal church would satisfy most of these requirements.
Our Top Five Criteria For a Church
The Methodists say it best, so I’ll use their words. “Whatever your race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic situation, background or belief, age or condition of ableness, whether single or partnered, you are God’s beloved and are welcome here!” #dealbreaker
I want to meet new people! Having friends at a church makes getting involved in small groups and mission functions easier and more fun. Plus, we need help exploring the Twin Cities, I’ve been away for waaaay too long. I feel like I should write a personal ad: Young couple with small child looking for other young couples with children or cool people in their 30’s to hang out with and have some laughs. 🙂
3. Location I need to be close to church. I grew up being close to church, and my parents still live a mere two-minute drive away from their church. It’s key to my life otherwise getting there and getting involved on days other than Sunday is nearly impossible. I can get myself (and my family) out of bed and in the car to church most mornings but I’m only human. Who doesn’t love convenience?
I want quality mission and volunteer projects that help the community nearby. I want a robust Sunday school program, a large and lovely choir, small groups to join, and picnics and bbq’s and holiday parties. Yes, I’m greedy, I want it all BUT I’m willing to settle for less. This is just a list of ideals folks!
Yep, a pastor is last on my list despite knowing that a good pastor can really hurt or help a church. Simply put, it’s not as important as the other items in this list. More specifically I’m looking for quality sermons that make you think, how the pastor interacts with people and greets newcomers, and their speaking voice. As a trained actor, I can be a bit of a public speaking snob.
What do you think of my list? Are any of these things important to you or would you add something else entirely?
Unfortunately, the church we are currently courting only passes number one and number three. It’s about 15 minutes away, which is the furthest I’d like to go, but the major issue is 95% the congregation appears to be 60 years old and above. Whomp whomp. Don’t get me wrong, they are the sweetest people, and I love seeing diversity in age as well but we have very little in common.
I keep waiting for a sign or something because I don’t know if I we should broaden our search or just get involved with our current choice. Maybe I’ve been too lucky in the past! I do have a feeling that when we find the place, I’ll just know it.
If you don’t attend church, what feeds your spirituality?