Almost two years ago our family decided to look for a new church. We had been attending a Methodist church in the small town the kids went to school in. This church was our home. Most of our friends went there, Nick and Ryan both went to preschool there, Josh and I taught Sunday school there, my friend Amy and I started a MOPS group there(well she organized it I just helped her), I helped organize VBS, we organized a few family functions, I served on the preschool board, I was the nursery coordinator for about a year etc. As you can see we were pretty involved in our church and loved it.
There were a few reasons we left but the #1 reason was the pastor that had come to our church about 2 years prior to that. He was not what our family and many other families in the church considered "good pastor material". I won't bore you with lots of details but I will say when someone says to you "the pastor doesn't make the church" they are not entirely correct. The pastor is the backbone and lifeblood of the church in my opinion. They should inspire, they should lead, they should love and most of all they should have a passion for what the Lord has called them to do. Unfortunately this pastor didn't really exhibit any of these qualities and the church suffered immensely because of it.
Earlier this year it was decided that the current pastor was not the right fit for this church and a new pastor was appointed. From what I hear he has all of the qualities that I felt were lacking in the old pastor. The church is healing. Pretty soon I'm sure it will be thriving. What we are trying to figure out is where does that leave us.
Leaving a church that is your home is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Unfortunately in my lifetime I have done this twice. For the first 18 years of my life my family and I attended the same church. My parents decided to leave after many difficult years with the pastor there. I completely agree with their decision to leave but what happened as a result has set me up for failure. When you attend a church your entire life as a child you think everything is perfect. You do not see people being human. You don't see any of the financial hardships that churches encounter. You don't notice any problems with the theology because you don't even understand what that is yet. I never saw any of that before we left. Now as an adult I feel like those things are the only things I see.
After high school I attended church sporadically with friends testing the waters of inter-denominational, non-denominational, baptist and catholic churches. None of them ever lasted. Then I met my husband who was raised catholic and from that point on we basically agreed that we would find a church that met in the middle..... someday...... but it certainately wasn't something we needed to do right away. Which led to no church for at least 6 or 7 years. (not something I would advise but hey we were young we thought we knew everything)
So when we found our church through the preschool we were overjoyed. It felt like home from the minute we walked in. And we settled in. Now we are lost again. We have visited many different churches over the last two years and nothing has quite felt right to any of us. They are either too small or too big, too conservative or too liberal, the music is either too traditional or just not any good. So we visited our former Methodist church yesterday. One of our good friends was preaching so we decided it would be a good excuse to check it out. It was a little strange being back after all that time but everyone welcomed us with open arms telling us how glad they were to see us. The sermon was excellent, the kids enjoyed children's church. We even took the boys to the new youth group they have started this fall. They said it was ok but that there were a lot of naughty kids there and when asked what did they learn they said pretty much nothing. For some reason this made my whole attitude sour.
So now I am faced with what to do and where to go again. The whole children's ministry at the church was one of the issues that contributed to our decision to leave. Don't get me wrong this church definitely has a heart for children and a passion to bring them in. I just have a problem with the lack of discipline and the number of volunteers there are to help these big groups. I'm pretty sure that if I were to take a poll this would probably be in the top three issues that every church faces. But that doesn't help me right now. Do we continue to go back to this church and look for other alternatives for our children or do we continue to look elsewhere for the "whole package"? I want our children to have a good foundation. I want them to learn the bible and understand why they believe what they believe. I want their love for the Lord to continue to grow strong as they get older. I know if this isn't instilled now it will never get easier.
I'm hoping that someone out there has some wisdom for us. I thought maybe putting it out there might make things clearer for me.