Craig and I have had the experience of being members in eight churches during our twenty year marriage. This is not normal. In each church we have known and loved people who have generations that have been in the same church for their whole lives. And then there are people like us. We move in, and eventually we move out… on…. away.
Our experience with participating in different churches has enriched our faith journey in ways we wouldn’t trade. Here’s a short summary:
- Virginia: Bonsack Baptist Church, the church where we first became believers.It was rich with learning and relationship. A medium sized church that grew very large while we were there and even more since. We were so involved with the young couples class where we all began having babies at the same time.
- Ft. Worth TX: a huge church, wrought with many problems that made us wise in ways that were hard to learn. And despite all the problems people can cause, God was faithgful and we learned so much from the teaching of the bible there.
- Delaware: Faith Baptist Churh: a small church where we made deep lasting friendships, learned about community of a small group, and bound our hearts tightly with believers. Craig’s current prayer warrior friends are from that church!
- Wales: a tiny church in Cardiff where an American missionary couple and their family were our dear friends as well as the Pastor and wife.
- Connecticut: New Milford Bible Church: one of our very favorite, small, traditional, loving, connected, and wonderful in every way!!! A quintessential New England church.
- Arizona: first church: there was a difficult situation in the church so we had to leave, and then our great joy was to participate in a model church:Scottsdale Bible Church. I still receive the sermons on CD from our pastor and teachers there and listen faithfully. If I could recommend a podcast they have it. Jamie Rasmussen is the preacher. www.scottsdalebiblechurch.com:
- And now currently: Kingsland Baptist Church: another really big church, where we are slowly becoming enmeshed with relationships and living the love of Christ with believers and sharing our talents where we can.The kids especially are growing their faith in deep ways with the excellent youth ministry there.
The main thing we learned through all these church experiences to be vitally important as we moved around the country is this: worshipping together as a family is a non-negotiable point of necessity for us. In many cases the modern churches have services designed just for each age group and the parents go to “big” church alone. I understand this new model, and I’m not criticizing it. I just know for us we will worship together as a family. Usually, besides dinner, it is the only place we all actually GO to as a group of six. We want our kids to learn exactly what we are learning in church so we know what is planted in their minds, and can have discussions from that place. If they are in another service, we can’t relate to what they learned. God is able to speak to them where they are struggling in their hearts at exactly the same time He speaks to us where we are struggling- all in the same service. At some point when they are grappling with a personal problem we can remind them of a particular teaching we had about that and then discover together ways to apply the answers from God’s word to our regular every day problems. And believe me with this approach problems do not have such a big effect on our inner contentment. And even better the authority is not only Mom and Dad, but more effectively: God and what He says in his word.
The cute thing I enjoy most is how each of the boys whip out their notebooks when the sermon starts. We’ve never told them to do that. I have always been a note taker.By observing us they open their bibles, and notebooks and keep their notes going through the whole service. If anything this practice keeps them focused on what they are hearing and not off day dreaming, which is exactly why I take notes.