We sat in the car in front of a nondescript community center. The website had told us that this is where the church would be meeting, but a glance at the parking lot made me realize that this was going to be much different than what we are used to. There would be no blending into a crowd here, no sneaking in unseen. With only a couple of dozen vehicles in the parking lot, we would not go unnoticed.
The last time I searched for a church, I was in my first year of college, but since we will eventually be moving too far away from our home church to visit weekly, we decided to get head a start by looking into local congregations. This was our first stop.
As I walked the halls of that community center, I wondered how non believers do it. I knew every step was taking me closer to a room full of strangers, but as fellow believers, I was confident that while I might not know them, we carry the same heritage.
It’s moments like these that it helps to have small children. While we had sent the older two with my mom and sister to their church, we had Baby E with us, and I figured he would be a great buffer. After all, if there is a lull in the conversation, someone would be sure to ask about him.
We were greeted by smiling faces, eager to show us where we needed to go, and encouraging us to take Baby E into the service with us if that made us more comfortable. It made him more comfortable so we did. Some of the songs weren’t familiar, but their tunes and melodies were easy to pick up, and while we sang I surveyed the room in front of us. We had chosen seats near the back in case Baby E made a fuss, and I watched the people around me, realizing that I was the only one not wearing a coat. It’s cold, I noted, before hearing the pastor mention that the heat had stopped working.
When the songs and communion were over, the pastor got up to speak. He opened up the Bible to a chapter in James and went verse by verse. My mouth nearly dropped open as the sermon directly corresponded to the very things Tim and I had been talking about last night in the parking lot outside the grocery store. It always amazes me when that happens.
After the service, the pastor and his wife greeted us and we chatted for a little while, Baby E providing the common ground of parenting experience to bridge any awkward moments.
While I went in nervous, I came out encouraged by our experience. We will visit more churches in the months to come, but it was a good feeling to not strike out the first time we tried. The people seemed kind and the preaching was solid. It was small, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would be interested in seeing how the kids would integrate, but all in all, I think it went well.
We promised Baby E a donut if he behaved well during the service, and he did great. In fact, he actually fell asleep in Tim’s arms for most of the sermon, so he more than earned his donut. We took him to Dunkin Donuts after church and he chose out his own donut and soaked up his one on one time with mommy and daddy. 🙂