Today we attended a church recommended by several we know. The sermon was about spritual gifts. The people we met said the sermon was unusual as it was a theme. The pastor usually preached expository straight from the Bible, but people had so many questions about spiritual gifts, so he felt they needed some lessons on that. He spoke of spiritual gifts as being given to believers for the glorification of Christ to be used in service to the body. He still used scripture, and focused a great deal on exactly what was said and gave very few tangental stories or illustrations. I noticed two families sitting in front of me. It was a row full of girls. The three directly in front of us each had their own Bibles, and were taking notes from the sermon. When the final prayer was given and we were standing to go, I looked around and noticed that many children were carrying their own Bibles, it wasn’t just the adults. This particular church has Sunday school first hour, then service with only the youngest being in nursery and “children’s church.” I think anyone older 8 is in service. I noted the Bibles when speaking to people said “welcome” to us. They said that Sunday school classes encourage the kids to use the Bibles, and they also then bring them into the church service. This doesn’t mean this church is on the right track for sure, but it is a good sign. In our former church, many adults still carried their own Bibles, but kids didn’t and teens even didn’t. When they announced new members in service, the ceremony included asking them why they came to this church. The people each said one reason was the strong Biblical teaching. The people who talked to us after church also said that this church offered expository Biblical teaching. One couple has five girls, and had come from out of state. They said they had been greatly concerned when they were “church shopping” with all that they were seeing in most churches. Wow. They asked us which church we had left, and we shared. They said they had visited there. I explained that it took a while for us to even see what was happening, and they said they understood. Some of it is in the relationships that are hard to let go of, some of it is in the choice to be blind as you cannot believe people you trust would be saying what they are saying.
We did see a few people we knew, they had come from our former church. Many more we didn’t know. It appears that there are many large families in this church, and many homeschool. We have a larger family, but not the largest by far in this church. One family we recognized as one member had been voted out of our congregation because, as we were told, he didn’t agree with doctrinal issues presented by an elder in our former church and he was unloving in his approach. I have to wonder exactly what did happen then. We trusted our elders and voted him out right along with most of the congregation. That could have been us had we pressed…unless they really did approach things in the wrong way.
Not sure this church will be our home. If it were me alone I would say this is the church I want to attend. However, my husband needs to have a big say. The church we have attended for a few months is comfortable to him, and he believes we could have an impact there. I am not so sure, I fear it’s just 10 years behind our former church and is really on the same path. However, I am not certain as we haven’t interviewed the pastors. So, it appears, unless something changes, we have two church possibilities. One is a “Christ follower” style church with the “praise band” but so far with some expository teaching, and one we’ve attended only today that appears to rely almost soley on expository preaching. The music also is hymns (unfortunately still on overhead, I believe we miss something when kids don’t see the actual music in hand…I wish that would change everywhere…maybe both overhead and music books?).
I do have some hope though, this church we tried today may be on guard against the influences of the emergent and emerging church/Purpose Driven style/Seeker sensitive movement etc.