One thing that can keep us rooted in suburbia is church. We choose to ditch suburbia and travel without really knowing how we would continue in our faith. Our first thought was that we would visit different churches as we travelled. This is our response to one of those experiences.
We boondocked in this particular church parking lot on our way to a campground. We came in at twilight, and couldn’t find anyone to talk with at the church or at the parsonage. We returned the following Sunday to worship with them and be able to make a donation.
Going Back in Time
Overall it felt like we had returned to the churches of our youths. The dress code was suit and ties for the men and dresses for the women.
Except for us. I was in khakis and a sweater, but the rest of the family was in jeans.
The congregation was skewed towards retired people yet was fairly large in size. Music was all organ and piano - with “special music” provided by the “Ladies Ensemble” singing to a recorded track.
Please Stand Up?
The very first order of worship was to call out to any visitors to stand up and identify themselves so the church could provided you with a ‘packet of information’.
I’ll never understand this practice - we are uncomfortable enough being under dressed and in a completely new church, now you want us to raise our hands so you can publicity recognize us?
It seemed especially silly since there was a “visitor center” in the lobby where we could choose to initiate the conversation.
Missions Driven, But
On a positive note the church seemed very missions driven - we heard from around 5 different opportunities before the message.
The church was a Bible church. However after starting the message with some bible verses, the Pastor turned it into a “how to get along at your job” sermon.
We learned a few things but missed the total verse-by-verse bible focus of our home church.
Is This a Funeral?
The building, the suits & dresses, the flowers - all said “funeral home” to me. I can’t imagine experiencing this as someone new to Christianity.
If you claim the joy of Jesus in your church and life, why do you dress that joy in the trappings of a funeral?
This was an awkward experience. We felt out of place due to how we were dressed, felt bad because we didn’t want to stand up in front of everyone to recieve the information packet, and no one really sought us out to welcome us or get our story.
It was one experience in many that started us thinking that we no longer fit in, or wanted to be part of an institutional church.
Have you ever felt totally out of place at a new church?