Since Eamon and I got married, we've been asked the same question, one hundred different ways:
"So, where do you go to church?"
The answer is almost always "We haven't found the right church for us, yet"
There's a joke here in DFW that if you throw a rock, you'll hit a church. And it's true! On every street corner there is a church of some sort FILLED with people. The obvious question then becomes
"Why haven't you found one?"
At first, the answer was simple-
I hate mega churches. Okay, hate is a strong word, but the idea that one man can stand up in front of thousands of people and have the word penetrate into each of their hearts as if he was Jesus Christ Himself, rubs me the wrong way [obviously...] Not to mention the million dollar sound systems, overly gelled worship teams, everyone wearing clothes that looked like they had just been purchased that morning, it all makes me very uncomfortable. [NOT that Jesus ever called us to be comfortable!]
Here's a picture of our home church in Rockport:
There are about 300 people all coming in, greeting each other. There are very few people who don't know everyone's name. With a few exceptions of some button up shirts and slacks, most of the men are wearing shorts or blue jeans, and fishing shirts [the hawiian print t-shirt is in there somewhere, if not a couple!] Most of the women do wear a skirt or dress of some sort, but if you're under the age of 30, no one expects anything more than jeans and a t-shirt. Worship was uncomplicated, and the message was either comforting or deeply convicting-every week. I was baptized there, I was saved there, we were even married there. Every time I walk through there doors, I feel the presence of Jesus, and He is so happy.
This picture of our home church is what a lot of people describe when they come home from mission trips around the world. The simplicity is delightful. My immaturity in my spirit to this day makes it extremely hard to just walk into these huge churches here that are modeled after colleges-some without pastors in them, just a big tv broadcasting another sermon?!?- and not judge, just receive the spirit. But eventually, I sucked it up. That was not before we gave "home church" a try. My experience turned into a bitter one by the end of that too, and I was left with a sour taste for "church" in my mouth by the time Lily was born.
We stop judging, and start trying.
Eventually, we had enough. We needed to go to church. So when Lily was just a few months old, we started trying churches out. From the televised sermons in front of a thousand people, to the small "traditional" church, to the gathering of just a few friends, we gave a little bit of everything a try. But one thing became apparent - Lily did not like church, or rather, the church did not like Lily. When we went to church the greeters always showed me where the "cry room" was [some that you could see/hear the sermon, others you couldn't]. It always felt like they were saying "Oh look at that little angel, be sure she doesn't ruin church for us" So after a few Sundays of getting dirty looks for breastfeeding Lily in the congregation, I started going to the cry room.
It started to really bug Eamon and I that in order to go to church and be fed, we were to be separated. I know not everyone feels this way, and that's ok!, but being together for worship and learning is very important to us. If we wanted Eamon to receive the word every week and then relay it back to me [pretty old testament if you ask me] this would work out fine for us, but we don't, and it doesn't.
But now, Lily is older and can go to the nursery without me and Eamon and I can receive the gospel, no problem! Right?
Even if we tell the nursery workers, "She will DIE if she eats a peanut, WATCH HER!" We both sit through the sermon terrified. If one kid had a pb&j beforehand and has some on his fingers and touches Lily, we only have minutes to save her life. Not every nursery worker who has 10 other kids to watch is up for that responsibility.
Where do we go from here?
With a toddler, and a newborn on the way [starting this mess all over again] we are left aching to worship with others and receive the word. It just seems impossible. So, I'm here asking you with similar family situations "How do you church?" Is it possible? Please share your ideas! We'd love to hear them :]