What I Learned from Dating Around…for the Perfect Church

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I moved back in April, and thusly was on a quest to find the “right church for me”. With a history of solid churches in my background and a Bachelors in Bible, I was ready to joyfully overanalyze every church I visited until finding the one that fit me! šŸ™‚

I researched churches online and asked locals about their church of choice. I knew that I needed to be full of both discernment and grace. I needed to make sure I could submit theologically to their leadership, and that I could be discipled and have the opportunity to disciple through the church–but I can’t be TOO picky. I know that I’d never find a perfect church, and if I did-i shouldn’t join it, because I’d ruin it!

And so I began church dating.

At least that’s what it felt like.

“Oh Betty, you would LOVE _______. He is just AMAZING! His family is the best, and he is super musical-just like you! You guys could do it together”

“Betty-you should totally meet up with _______! He has such a great heart; you would be really good for him. ”

Etc. etc. šŸ˜‰

So I would visit a church (the first date), and often walk away with a heavy heart. I was confused, because theĀ churches wereĀ GREAT-I just “wasn’t feeling it”.Ā Why didn’t I want to go on a second date? Was it because he talkedĀ about himself the whole time? Or Ā because he didn’t tip theĀ waitress? Or because I feel like, though he’s a godly guy, he is clearly still stuck in the 90’s, and brotherĀ hasĀ no sense of humor? Are these okay reasons not to go back? I hated not being plugged in to a local body of believers, and I know many of them would have been good choices to “date”-I just had no peace.

There was one church I visited, Keystone, that was nearly perfect at first. I loved their gospel centeredness. I appreciated their worship service and their song choices really stirred my affections for Christ. They had a great heart for missions and for youth and for prayer. It seemed like a second date was definitely a possibility! But then I became really discouraged about the sermon (we simply weren’t in Scripture as much as I think we should be), and so after the last song, I hightailed it outta thereĀ fast and decided that was a big NO for me thanks.

I continued searching for a church.

However, I couldn’t get KeystoneĀ out of my head.

Two weeks ago I was at a picnic in the park that Keystone hosted. I watched their church serve their community. They went above and beyond to bless and interact with people, and I got to know some families from the church.

And there I realized, I’ve been church hopping/hunting/dating ALL wrong.

The problem with my thinkingĀ was that I went to churchesĀ seeking to “experience” the church, and not seeking to be PART of the church. I didn’t viewĀ the church as the body of believers I would be shaped by, I viewedĀ the church by the sermon’s depth or the musicians focus or the bulletin’s contents (though all important things). I went home that night and spent hours on their website again-listening to more sermons and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me of pride, and encourage me deeply with what I was hearing.

Once I visited Keystone again with a heart desiring to be part of the body-my experience changed completely. I didn’t just come and go without striving to be involved. I came a little early, met people, stayed a little late and connected again. I was so blessed by the people I spoke to. I realized that this Bride of Christ is where I want to go to grow in my love for the Lord and partner in the spread of the Gospel.

So, if you ever find yourself church hopping/hunting/dating- just remember to clothe yourself in prayer, and don’t just go expecting to be impressed. Go with a heart that wants to learn, worship, and serve alongside of this community and seek to discover if this is where God will make that happen!

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Also, because I love laughing:

“Just” Finished Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel

I’ve gotten super behind on my book posts! So today I am playing “catch up”and going to go back through my devotional journals and try and explain what I’ve learned from reading Judges, Ruth, and 1st Samuel.Ā It was actually SUPER encouraging to read the journaled observations I made from the text and it was a great reminder to myself that GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD–but WE have to be IN IT to hear it. I’ve heard him both sweetly and sternly teach me through these pages, and it motivates me to read more!

Bible

This is a a little different from my other posts, but I’m just going to share one “take away” from each book that I journaled about.

Judges: It’s interesting how people dislike the Old Testament portion of the Bible because it is so gruesome and filled with wars. Conquests, slaughterings, a fat king knifed to death, and a woman taking a tent peg through the temple of her foe are all found even just in this one book. But me, I LOVE that this kind of stuff is in our Bible! It makes it such an interesting read, and helps me understand (and root for!) the Main Character all the more!

Can you imagine LOTR without the battle scenes, the bitten off finger, or the son nearly burnt alive? There’s heroism, true love, perseverance, friendship, and goodness. You need both elements of discomfort and beauty to make a captivating story. Ā We the audience get to experience SUCH JOY in the triumph precisely because of the gruesomeness the characters had to endure.

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This is what I think of as I reflect on Judges. Yes, there are scenes that make me grimace, my heart race, or my stomach churn. There are villains that are pure evil, that could give me nightmares. But that is reality, and it is what makes our Hero SO great and his victory SO EXCITING. Reading through the OT is painful and confusing at times. But I know that the New Testament is coming, and the battle will FINALLY be won, the enemy defeated, and the last boat out of Rivendell has a spot on it for me. šŸ™‚

Ruth-My big take away from Ruth was the idea that GOD GRACIOUSLY REDEEMS SO MUCH; He is sovereign over even our hardest pains. Here’s a list of hard things in the book that he HAD A PERFECT PURPOSE FOR.

  • There is a famine in Naomi’s hometown, and they have to leave šŸ˜¦ (So hard to say goodbye to everything and everyone you’ve ever known)
  • Naomi’s sons marry Moabite women šŸ˜¦ (Iwonder if this BROKE Na’s heart?)
  • Naomi’s husband dies šŸ˜¦
  • Ruth is childless šŸ˜¦ (maybe she struggled with infertility? Who knows?)
  • Naomi’s oldest son dies šŸ˜¦
  • Naomi’s youngest son dies šŸ˜¦
  • Ruth and Na are seperated from Ruth’s sister in law
  • Boaz is single (I wonder if he ever struggled with that?)
  • Ruth can only get a job gleaming
  • The “other redeemer” had children and therefore could not buy the field from Naomi

We serve a redeemer my friends. A good God who isĀ in control of ALL things.

1 Samuel-In this book God, through Samuel, establishes a monarchy in Israel–first with Saul, then with David. God’s obvious sovereign hand is beautifully all over these pages. šŸ™‚ Though many are very familiar to those of us who have grown up in a church, the stories in this book are were surprisingly captivating to me during this read through! One of my takeaways (it was hard to pick just one!) was the grace of God in giving beautiful friendships. I love the story of Jonathan and David and it caused me to think about my friendships and praise God for the ways he has brought us together and sustained our love for each other.

I hope this post encourages you to be in the Word as much as it did for me! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

 

With love,

Betty