Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Search for a Church

**Disclaimer: This is not an essay on why we left our former church, but more of my thoughts on what we are looking for going forward. **

As some of you know a few months back we left our church to meet with a few other families in our homes.  I loved the closeness, transparency and flexibility of meeting with these families and I hated to see it end.  But, end it did.  Or at least it is put on hold for personal reasons that I would rather not share on this blog :)  I could write whole blog posts on why I loved worshiping weekly this way, but that is not what this post is about.

Now we begin.  Begin a church hunt that Philip and I have done twice before as a couple.  But this time is different.  This time we have certain expectations on what a church that we bond ourselves should look like.  What leadership in the body that we submit to should look like.
The following ideas are not necessarily Philip's but they are mine and I've been wanting to share them for some time.

Ultimately I would love to find a church that:
  • knows what the church is for - The church (in my humble opinion) is not for the unbeliever.  The church is for the Body.  It should be a place where the Body comes to worship, fellowship and grow as fellow believers.  I know this is a radical thought, but I don't think you should invite your non-believing friend to church so they can "hear the gospel".  The things being taught from your pulpit should be foolishness to the non-believer, but more on that later.
  • follows Scripture - This seems simple enough, don't all churches believe they are following scripture?  The problem comes here when we as fallible humans go to the Bible with our ideas of what church should be.  Some denominations even hold up other writings or traditions at the same level as the Word of God.  On our search we are looking for a church who starts and ends with scripture.  Traditions thrown out, the thoughts and ways of man thrown out, etc.
  • is family centered - I believe that the family is an institution that is being ripped apart at every opportunity. Because of this we want to do as many things as a family that we can.  Worship as a family, learn as a family, serve as a family.  There is a spectrum out there of how churches treat a family. On one end you enter and leave the church together and on the other end you drop off your children at the door and pick them up 3 hours later.  I am strongly leading toward staying with our family as much as possible.
  • is small - I didn't realize how much I enjoyed worshiping with a small body of believers until our house church met.  When I was growing up we went to a church where everyone knew everyone.  You didn't sign your kid into nursery because everyone knew who you were, how old your kids were, where you lived, etc.  If you were a visitor everyone knew it, and that's just because of the sheer size of our congregation.  Once a church gets so big you don't know who's coming and who's going.
  • has solid preaching - One of the things I think larger churches fall into is preaching the gospel every Sunday, essentially offering milk to the potential non-believer in the audience instead of meat for the believers that need to grow.  We have visited four different churches already and have heard several solid scripture based sermons that have challenged us as believers.  Last Sunday I commented to the preacher that the sermon was, "rough", he replied back, "Yeah, it was a real scorcher!"  Preaching from scripture is something that we are definitely looking for.
  • is debt free - "Neither a borrower nor lender be" is actually Shakespeare's quote, but I think it does ring true.  The Bible tells us that, " the borrower is the slave of the lender."  For years I've been a Dave Ramsey fan and becoming debt free has taught us that when we are a borrower we are slave to the bills we owe.  We are not free to do as God calls us to when He calls us to do it. If this applies to a person, why not to the church as a whole?  If a church doesn't have money to do something or build something maybe it isn't time to do or build!
  • has Biblical leadership - The Bible is very specific about how the leadership in the church should be laid out and we are looking for an elder led body of believers.
  • is a place to serve and glorify God - Ultimately we are all here to glorify Him and that is my prayer.  Not that we find a church that meets all of my qualifications, but that we find a church where we can serve and glorify our Father.
If you are still reading I would like to say, "Thank You!"  I have had a lot of these things on my heart for a while and it feels good to get them out on "paper".

 **Restatement of disclaimer: This was not a list of things our former church did not have, it was merely a list of thoughts that I have been having for two months.  I am a sinful, fallible human being and so many of the things written above may be wrong and I pray that God reveal those things to me. **

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting Caught Up!

We just got back from an 11 day trip down to Louisiana.  We had a great time celebrating Ethan's birthday, visiting with family and eating all of that good food I miss here in TN!!

Here are some pictures of the fun we had on the Fourth!  I got to practice my firework picture taking skills.

While we were there one of Philip and I's favorite bands (My Epic) was playing in Texas.  Philip got to see this band in Chattanooga as his "Birthday Event" but I didn't get to go.  Philip's parents were sweet enough to watch the boys for us while we had our get-a-way!  The concert was great!  Here is one of my favorite songs put to pictures from a few movies about Christ.  The lyrics that this band writes are so profound.....

On our way home from the concert we thought back over our years as parents and we figured out that we have taken an overnight trip away from our kids every year that we have been married.  We are so thankful to the family and friends that have allowed us to get some much needed time away as a couple. We would like to thank my Dad and Mom, Justin and Carmen Baba and Danny and Cindy Boudreaux (who have done this twice for us)!  It is so important to us that Philip and I have time away together.  After all, one day the kids will leave us and all we will have is the two of us again!