If you follow my blog then you know that my family and I made a major change in 2013…we changed churches. This may not seem like a big deal to everyone, depending on your own background and experiences, but to me it was a big deal. You see, the church we had been attending is the only church I’ve ever attended regularly and it is the church I was attending when I truly learned what salvation was and that I HAD IT! It’s also the church where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, where I was joined in matrimony to my husband, where I had two of my three children, where I developed many amazing friendships, where I was blessed with opportunities to speak and teach and pray for others, where I was trusted by the Pastor to take the stage at the leading of the Spirit and deliver a Word to the congregation. I loved, and still love, my church. So you might be wondering why we left and that is a good question indeed.
I started this post with intentions of writing about a whole other subject (relationship with God…we’ll get there though) but as the letters flow from my keyboard, I feel that the Lord is leading this in a different direction and I’m ready to follow!!
After nine years of attending our previous church (longer for my husband), which I’ll refer to as my ‘home church’ moving forward, my husband and I were led to begin attendance at a neighboring church. At the time of this move, we were involved in leadership at our home church. We attended Sunday School and morning service regularly and we even taught a Sunday night class with a group of amazing people. We were not ‘at odds’ with the church or the leadership or the people. We weren’t “church hoppers” always looking for a congregation that soothes our itching ears. We didn’t leave because we didn’t like the people or the Pastor. We didn’t leave for any negative reason. I think it’s important to stress the reasons we didn’t leave because I know there have been many who have wondered. 🙂 🙂
So, why did we leave? Well, it’s as simple as to say that God led us to, and for reasons I am still discovering as we walk this out. Now, my husband likely has a very different perspective as to why we left and what he is discovering in the process but this is my blog post so I will only speak from my perspective. If you know him though, feel free to ask for his views. 😉 At the time that we changed churches I was very excited. You know, something new! Also, I had been listening to the messages of the Pastor who we now sit under for at least a year so I knew that I loved the Word and I was looking forward to getting to hear it first hand. The first day we visited our new church, my husband knew it was where we were supposed to be and I was right there supporting his decision because I had wanted to visit for so long. So, we prayed about it and we stepped down from leadership at our home church (which was the hardest part of the whole journey so far…like leaving family!) to begin attendance at our new church. It wasn’t long before I began to think over all the things I missed from my home church and wonder if we had made the right decision. Afterall, the new church doesn’t have Sunday School or a Wednesday night service for adults. There are Connect Groups but no child care. We had gone from major involvement in our home church to only one weekly service and no fellowship. It was a huge shock to my system and it left me wanting more. On top of that, I didn’t jump right into the new church with an open mind about meeting new people. I was honestly scared that if I got to know new people and like them that I might forget about my friends at my home church (out of sight, out of mind…busyness…you know) so I kept to myself and didn’t engage with others much. ***For those of you who know how much I like to talk, you know this was very out-of-place for me!***
Well, that only lasted so long because my daughter heard of an opportunity to join a dance group at the church and she wanted to be involved. So, there I was every Wednesday afternoon sitting in the auditorium with a bunch of moms I didn’t know while we all watched our daughters practice. I kept to myself at first until one day I accidentally volunteered to be the one who helps the girls memorize their scripture. No hiding now…I had 20 or so girls lining up at the end of each practice to recite a verse to me and then pick their treat from a bag that I held. At first, I didn’t want to do it…it was taking me away from my hiding. But, as the weeks went on, I really enjoyed seeing the girls and all their personalities shine through. Plus, I got a small glimpse of the joy of teaching again. I also ended up talking to the other moms at bit more as a result, which is good. I’m sure God was chuckling from above as He watched me flounder is this position that necessitated a crawl out from my shell. 🙂
During this same time period, my husband and I started attending a Sunday morning Connect Group. The subject matter was good and the people were nice but it straddled the first service so that our kids ended up having to attend almost two full services on Sunday mornings. Since there is no Sunday School, they were sitting through the same message twice and not loving that. Yes, we could’ve laid down the law and just told them to deal with it, but we ended up missing a couple of classes anyway and the teaching is from a CD so we just stopped going. During one of the classes we did attend, I had opportunity to speak from my heart to the group about the topic at hand and everyone seemed to really be touched by what I had to say. That fleeting moment made me miss our old Sunday School and Connect Group all the more.
After all that and six months of attendance, I found myself really missing the relational part of our home church. I was asking God why we were there and what we were doing. I was feeling alone and confused and frustrated but God is good and He’s always there in my time of need. I was starting to get an idea as to the purpose of this journey but I was also being a bit impatient in wanting to see the full picture. So, I finally reached out to a friend and mentor of mine who also used to attend my home church and who has experience in making more than one church ‘home.’ After some correspondence with her, I felt even more sure of some of what God was wanting to show me in this season and I have a whole new perspective on this journey. I’m still not sure of all the ins and outs or how things will go moving forward but here is what I do know.
- The ‘church’ spans beyond the boundaries of buildings.
- The ‘church’ can’t be cornered into the confines of any one denomination or age group (I’m sure I have more lessons on that one to come.)
- Leaving a church building does not mean you have to leave the ‘church’ (the people who occupy that building).
- Sowing into another part of the church body does not lessen my ability to sow into another part.
- Meeting and liking new people does not take away from how much I care for people I already know (any more than having my second and third children took love away from my first and second children).
- There are assignments for me outside of the confines of my comfort zone.
- Unfamiliar people, faces, and places only stay that way as long as you let them.
- You can always go back home but you shouldn’t stay unless God said so. 🙂
I’m sure there is more but I think you get the picture. I’m just getting started on this journey but I’m grateful for the opportunity to expand my horizons (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). I’m excited for what God has in store for me and my family and I know that I’ll need the ability to ‘drop and roll’ for the assignments ahead. The Lord has definitely blessed me with some amazing friends and mentors and the perfect husband for me. Without all of them, I’m not sure I’d have a healthy perspective on all of this so I sure am glad to have them. It’s so interesting to reflect on past events and be able to see how God knew what was coming and placed all the dominoes in the right place and order so that they’d fall into a beautiful picture. Yea God!!
Now, if you ever find yourself on a path that leads you to wonder if you took a wrong turn, take heart! It could be that God is just wanting you to follow Him one step at a time and trust His leading. It could be that there’s a lesson to learn to prepare you for the next journey. It could be that you’re about to take the journey that begins all others!!
***Common sense warning: I’m referring to a safe path, of course. I would never advocate going on a journey that is harmful or against God’s leading. Be led!***
I hope this post touches the hearts of others feeling ‘in the middle’ but, even if not, I feel better having typed it. Have a great Thursday everyone!