In response to my vagabond spirituality blog, I was asked what I was looking for as my family “church shops”. I thought I’d let my wife respond (her FIRST guest blog!). I’ll probably have a few comments to add tomorrow:
A poster at our boys’ school reads “Good Teaching is Loving and Listening, Sharing and Supporting – it is being passionately human. That is the point at which a good teacher begins.” I want my pastor to begin with this too.
I am looking for a small – medium size church, however one large enough to already have a good children’s program in place. I want the kids program to reach my boys, so my boys are excited to be going to church and the kids program. I do not want to feel like I am dragging my boys to church. Nor do I want to be forced to help the children’s ministry once a month since children’s ministry is not my gift area. I would rather be used in a better way that uses my gifts.
I am looking for a diverse church. I don’t want to look out into the crowd and see a cookie cutter people, where everyone looks alike, dresses alike, and talks alike. Ideally I want to look out into the crowd and not see one dominant race but more of a mix of races, and a diversity of economical status (not all wealthy, not all poor – but rather a healthy mix).
I am looking for a church that teaches community and really lives it out. I am looking for a church with a community to be in, one that you are real with. I hate the fakeness of many churches: “How are you?” “fine” and “how are you” “fine”. Great we are all fine, but that is not how life is. I want people there to pray for me when I am down, to call me out when I am wrong, to be happy for me when things are going great, and to cry with me when they are not.
I want the church small enough that if I disappear for several weeks, the pastor or the elders notice and they call out of concern or wanting to check in with me. As opposed to guilting me as to with an unspoken “what was more important than church?” attitude. I want people to be real with me, actually care about me as a person.
I am looking for a pastor that can reach me while he is preaching to me, so I can learn from him. Not one that talks over my head, but more one that talks about problems or issues that I deal with on a daily basis. One that teaches me how to live and how to be a better person, but also one that is not so topical that we don’t open the bible. I also want a preacher that is reachable, I don’t want an idol of a pastor. I want one that I can talk to me from time to time.
I want a church that doesn’t treat their pastor as an idol, meaning I want them to be able to have good fill-in pastors or speakers and when they fill in, it doesn’t mean half the church disappears since the pastor is not going to be there.
I want a church that is friendly but not too friendly. (friendly = I feel welcome and would be missed if I wasn’t there. Too friendly = makes it feel cult-like, sometime creepy, and mostly just plain fake).
I want the church to remind you about the offering, maybe even pass a plate, but not make a huge production about it (meaning not listing in the bulletin about the highest givers nor make us walk up front and put it in the plate so all can see).
I want the church to have some focus on mission work, not limiting it to overseas but teach about being missional right here in your neighborhood and city. I want the church to not just talk about it but actually reach out and make a difference in our neighborhood and city.