The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

Church Search--Indecision

So, in my last post on this topic, I said we were thinking about maybe sorta visiting this one other church the pastor had mentioned, but that we were feeling pretty at home where we were. Well..... I just couldn't get it out of my head that we ought to check this place out, more to satisfy my curiosity (otherwise I'd always be wondering if we'd made the right choice), because I really thought we'd be able to cross it off the list after just one visit.

But, of course, it wasn't that simple. The congregation is about 50% black and 50% white. The leadership, however, is very white. The worship style is probably 25% black and 75% white (I know I'm treading on delicate ground here making sweeping generalities about black and white styles of worship, but I'm just trying to give you a feel). I enjoyed the worship (though it was a little bit "theatrical"), but A thought it was too loud. I thought the preaching was pretty good. The congregation here is much larger than the first church's and the natural byproduct of that seems to universally be less friendliness/more anonymity. Kids' church seemed very well run and wasn't just a play time; they were actually trying to teach the kids something, which is great in my book. The pastor was a little shy and reserved and reminded me of my own personality (fine speaking to a crowd, but strangers are a little nerve-wracking). I think this is a fairly common personality profile for pastors (the pastor of the first church has a more approachable demeanor and is easier to engage on the first meeting and A prefers this personality). He just became the senior pastor as his father stepped aside to allow him to take that place. The father is still involved, but is no longer "senior." The father's personality was much more engaging and he seemed more gregarious and outgoing. There were no red flags about anything for either of us, but A did feel like we could pretty much opt for the other church without reservation, whereas I had a big ol' bundle of questions that I wanted answered before we wrote them off in preference for the other church. Truth be told, if I was making this decision only for myself, I would just go back to the first church. But, being a part of a family that is multi-racial, I want to be sensitive to that and explore ways of embracing that.

So, I emailed the pastor inviting him to meet with us to answer my myriad questions. This morning I got a phone call from his wife, who heads the children's ministries, because I'd checked a box on a visitors card saying I wanted to know more about the kids' stuff. I was really impressed with what she was able to tell me about the kids ministry, their vision and their methodology. Then I mentioned that I'd emailed her husband and she said he's out of town this week! So, I asked if I could overwhelm her with probative questions instead and she agreed to let me. The church was founded 20 years ago and she started going with her family while she was in high school--19 years ago (their first week was actually the church's first anniversary), so she was a good source of information.

She said they know they have a major gap in leadership being multi-racial. They had two black pastors on the staff, but they moved away and haven't been replaced. They recently replaced their worship leader, and looked high and low, far and wide, for someone of color who was available and who shared the church's values and vision, but none could be found.

They've done and continue to do much prayer for racial reconciliation and she said it influences everything they do as a church. They've had nationally-known speakers come in to speak with the church and do staff development stuff too. They have a major (and cool) outreach to the innercity--they send their vans down there and pick up anyone who wants to come, but most are homeless. They get a shower, a change of clothes, and breakfast upon arrival at the church. Then, after church, they get lunch (because no one else provides it on Sundays) and a ride back.

So, the father-son thing is kinda different. It could be really, really bad-weird or it could be really good. I asked about it and she had a prompt answer, so I know they are challenged on it a lot. She said that family leadership is biblical (a convenient interpretation???) and that if they were running a business no one would question it. This sounds a bit more defensive than she really was, but it's something that's obviously important to them--which makes it even more "dangerous" to me. The entire gov't system of the church is very different than anything I've known before and I don't fully understand it (we plan to ask more questions).

The main thing is the pastor's heart (since the church will follow that). The first church we believe to be about meeting the needs of the community in such a way that breaks down the barriers between people and Jesus (of course the main barrier--sin--is between them and God, but the other things we Christians do that make Jesus unattractive). The personality of the church is relaxed and welcoming, in accordance with the heart and vision. The second church is bigger, more formal, more "churchy," more diverse, etc. Having not had a personal interaction with the pastor, we can't even take a stab at his heart (yipes! that sounds dangerous too!). Judging from what we observed and what his wife told me today, I'd say they really are serious about racial reconciliation and that it seems to inform everything they do. They also have a heart for the community, particularly the inner city, for helping people know Christ and be discipled in relationships. So, which is more our vision, our heart? Where does our family fit in better? We still don't know. The game plan is to attend the second church again this Sunday and try to get with the pastor some time next week. We'll keep praying (please continue too!) and seeking clarity. Sometimes I really wish I was still a baby who only got one "choice"--being a mature believer and having options can be difficult! ;)


Melodie said...

Very interesting Rachel. I'll keep this in prayer.

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued