Since moving to Phoenix in December of 2005, I have been looking for a church home. There are several things that I was and was not looking for in a church. It took a while; I was beginning to think I was too picky.
I did not want to attend an uber-conservative church where the focus is more on what you shouldn’t be doing than what you should be doing. Been there, done that, didn’t like it much. I’ve found that in these churches it is more about which version of the Bible you should use (King James Version, ALWAYS), how long your hair should be (for women – long, for men – it cannot touch your ears or collar), and how many times per week you are in church (Sunday morning service including Sunday School AND church, Sunday night including an hour of Bible study before the evening service, Wednesday night Bible study and prayer meeting, Thursday night visitation and any other time the doors are open). It is also about not going to movies, never drinking any alcohol in any amount, wearing dresses only if you’re a woman, and shunning Halloween.
While I don’t particularly mind wearing dresses, and I’m not a big alcohol drinker and I truly enjoy attending worship services, I do not think that these things make me holy or a better Christian.
I also found out that I don’t enjoy mega-large churches much. I think it could be because I come from a small town in Wyoming where a large church has a regular Sunday morning attendance of maybe 200-250 people rather than 1000-3000 people. The larger churches that I attended here had great music, good activities and excellent preaching. But I needed fellowship and friendship and that’s not something I found. I even tried attending a small group. And I liked the people very much. But there was no fellowship or friendship outside of the small group, even with those people in the small group. I don’t know why, maybe I didn’t try hard enough, or maybe everyone was just too busy.
Since moving into our house in Phoenix, I had noticed that there was a church that met in the elementary school about two blocks from our home. I thought about attending for almost 2 years before I actually did, about three months ago.
And you know what? I. LOVE. THIS. CHURCH!
It is wonderful! I love the teaching (rather than preaching). I love that our pastor teaches through books of the Bible so that we understand what God is saying to us. I love that he teaches us about the context of the book(s) that he’s teaching through, and educating us about the culture, the people that the books were written to and how this is all relevant to us today rather than picking out pet sins to yell about.
I love the people who are friendly and notice if you missed a Sunday. I love that the congregation is small enough to get to recognize faces other than that of the pastor and worship team! But it is also large enough that there are enough people to do all the jobs in the church so that the same few people aren’t stuck doing everything.
I love that there is a real heart for outreach to our community through all kinds of activities (I will write more on this later), and I love that there is a real sense of purposeful Christian living where we realize that WE are the church, and that the church is not a building.
After visiting at least 7 other churches before coming to this one, I’m counting my blessings–I have a church home!