One of the hardest things about going to school is finding a new church family. For one, I’ve only spent one year out of twenty going to a church without my Dad pastoring it. For two, I love my family at EBC a lot and nothing makes me quite as homesick as going to church somewhere else. For three, there are a lot of churches around here.
Our first Sunday on campus was the day after we checked in. Instead of trying to find a new church right away, we had a service in the chapel as part of orientation. So we didn’t begin real church hunting until the next Wednesday. Because my roomie has a car (Hi Jenna! Oh wait. I forgot. You don’t even read my blog! AND YOU’RE ALWAYS ON MY SIDE OF THE ROOM!), I went to church with her, her cousin, and some girls across the hall. We picked Faith Baptist. The conversation in our car went something like this: “These roads are really curvy. I think I’m sick.” “How do we get there again?” “I think we should have left earlier.” “Is that it?” “I can’t figure out your GPS!” We pulled into the parking lot–but to our consternation, it was First Baptist, not Faith. Well. This is awkward. We decided to go in anyhow…but the only door we saw appeared to enter the very front of the sanctuary. Where do we go? Is there a different door? Nope. That was it, we discovered, as a gentleman enthusiastically beckoned to us through the glass. It did indeed open into the very front of the sanctuary.
“Are you ABC students? Why did you choose our church?” the man asked, beaming as he shook our hands.
“Yes, we’re from ABC. We choose your church…umm…” Exchange of awkward glances. Should we tell them we were actually trying to find a different church? “Well, it was the first one we found.”
We were then informed that the pastor was gone on vacation, so we heard an older gentleman sub for him. The people were very friendly, but one elderly couple pulled Melissa aside and told her that they were actually planning on leaving the church soon due to doctrinal problems and gave us a list of churches they recommended. Well. This is awkward. We decided to visit a few more churches before we went back.
Sunday morning, we decided to go to a church that was 1) sending a van and 2) had sent church members with bags of food to welcome us. Actually, the whole food thing was a coincidence. That’s not exactly why we decided to visit it. Really.
In the van, one of the girls who had gone to this church the previous year told us that the pastor was gone this week, so someone would be filling in. Sunday School was…well…mostly politics. And mostly politics of the “back in the day” genre. The worship service, however, was very encouraging and challenging, and we enjoyed visiting with the people. A lot of students were there that morning, however, and we were hoping for a church not quite so popular. (As a random side note, I learned about Opportunity Corners on the van ride back…)
That evening, we took Jenna’s car again and visited Bible Baptist. We had to go through a $0.40 toll. Oops. Forgot about that. Quick! Scramble for change! Here’s a quarter…and she has a dime…and a nickle…JENNA DON’T YOU DARE DROP THE CHANGE OR WE’RE STUCK! We made it. Narrowly.
When we got to church, we saw a display table from a couple who work in church planting in the foyer. “It would be ironic if there was another guest speaker,” we joked.
There was another guest speaker.
Three churches, three special speakers. What are the odds?
The guest speaker was really good, however, and I at least was very challenged by it. I definitely long to be involved in some sort of church planting or pastoring ministry. (Though also definitely not as the pastor.) The members were all incredibly welcoming, and the pastor and his wife met with all the visiting students after the service to give us their cell numbers and answer any questions we had. We decided we’d like to go back sometime. If, of course, we lived that long. We sorta kinda maybe took a wrong turn on the way home and ended up driving a long way and paying $4.40 more in tolls. It was the GPS’s fault, you see.
The second week of classes, we decided to retry finding Faith. We did make it this time. There seemed to be quite a few students attending it. The woman who was leading the ladies’ Bible study shared her testimony, which was really neat. Other than that, it didn’t really stand out a lot–but then again, it was just the midweek service instead of the worship service.
Our second Sunday of church hunting, we went to another Bible church. The road was really windy–Opportunity Corners galore!–and it reminded me of home. Good old Antire! Good old Highway PP! Not everyone appreciated the road, however. Silly girls. Who cares if you feel carsick? Think of the Opportunities!
Just kidding, OBVIOUSLY.
Anyhow. The el ed major chair was the ladies’ Sunday School teacher at that church, and it was really good. (Also, I met a missionary that Ruthie met in Brazil last February.) We entered the sanctuary…and the bulletin announced that there was a special speaker from the Gideons sharing.
Seriously? We haven’t hear the “real” pastor of ANY of these churches yet!! Thankfully, the actual pastor of the church did speak after Mr. Gideon shared for a few minutes. 🙂 It was good, and it felt like a good church to be involved in.
That evening, we decided to try one of the bigger churches that a lot of students and staff attend. There’s a reason they all go there, we heard: it’s the best church around. We got to the building right at 6, walked in…and saw no one. There were lists on the back table of Sunday night small group names, but no small groups visible. Maybe they’re downstairs? We crept down in the silence. It looked deserted…but there were voices from a room somewhere. We made our way through the hallway, but the voices we heard were all men. Hum. Probably a men’s small group wouldn’t be the best fit for us. Shh. Maybe they didn’t hear us peeking in the door. Walk on. We walked around the rest of the spacious basement, half-hoping to find someone and half-fearing being caught sneaking around. (That’s really what it felt like.) We didn’t find anyone else. By now it was past six, when most of the churches in the area have their evening service. Bible Baptist didn’t begin until 6:30, so we decided to go back there.
The regular pastor was preaching this evening. On relationships, of course. Apparently we haven’t heard enough about them at ABC. ONE of the girls in our group (YOU know who you are!) really needed to hear the message. That’s like ALL she thinks about! <insert knowing look>*
This church is really nice; before the service, one of the older ladies came up to us and told us that she was adopting us. After the service, another lady gave us her cell phone number, “just in case you ever need a mom or anything else.” The only thing I don’t really like is that both times we’ve visited, they had an alter call. I don’t like alter calls at all. I don’t know how to distinguish between my conscience and false guilt. Also, the church feels like it’s a little more white-collar than I’m used to. NOT, of course, implying that my church is composed of peasants or anything. You know what I mean. And if you don’t, just leave a ridiculous comment, like, “ARE YOU SAYING I GREW UP IN A CORNFIELD? ARE YOU SAYING I LIKE COMIC SANS?!?!?!?” And I’ll placate you and explain everything.
That took a lot longer to write than it should have. (Though I did go make some popcorn in the middle, so that added a few minutes.) Anyhow, those are our church-hunting adventures to date. I think Bible Baptist is where we’ll end up (did I mention they have a Patch the Pirate Club?), though I’m excited to be visiting Nychele’s church with her this Sunday.
Update to the scores:
- Twinsie 2: 2
- 2 Sheep: 1
- Mother, Mother, etc.: 2
- Johnny: 1
- Janelle: 1
- Stonewall Benson: 1 (he also sent a purple sparkly dancing cat picture)
- Daddy-o: 5 (How many popcorn bags I’ve eaten to date. I have the wrappers hanging on my bulletin board. He left me encouraging messages, like “Life is for Service!” and “think PURPLE!” He knows me.)
*JUST KIDDING. This unnamed girl is a very very sweet person and does NOT think about that silly stuff because she’s MATURE.