We don't go. Not because we don't believe-Jesus is the center of everything I live for. I have had too many experiences where only He could have been what saved me, and for that I gave Him my life a long time ago. But we have dilemmas. We just don't like the church set up. This post may be lengthy, as my journey to this point has been as well...
I grew up in a Presbyterian church in a small town not far from where we are now. Typical farmer church with the old farm wives who run a lot from behind the scenes and holy cow the judgment. I am not afraid of what God will say-I know he's forgiven me. The old farm wives, well, that's a different story! Anyway, I "grew" out of that church once I graduated from high school, as I felt a tugging for something a little more contemporary. This church helped lay the foundation for my beliefs-but only helped.
I started to college as a religion major and I know it was God who blessed me with a most amazing professor/adviser, who happened to be a Moravian minister. He is who really pushed me into a deeper faith listening to him talk about everything in an of his classes. He was absolutely forgiving, compassionate, humble, funny and encouraging. He truly walked the best he could as he thought Jesus wanted him to. From the things I learned studying the OT and NT in depth and through his talks about life in general, plus one supernatural experience involving of all things a Michael Jackson song,I ended up fully dedicating my life then.
I needed a landing pad, so I started going to church with my mom and sisters at a independent pentecostal church off of 2nd Ave in DSM. This place I can't I learned a lot more than to be totally cautious of the churches you attend, and am forever grateful for having gone to school first as a lot of what was said here was NOT gospel, but rather mere speculation and interpretation taken as truth. I know that some interpretation is sometimes necessary, but this crossed lines. In the meantime, though, I got involved with the Friday night worship team. This connection is forever important. First of all, I learned that I LOVE to worship God through music and started writing some stuff that I rarely share with others as I am no Chris Tomlin, but it helped me. Second, I met some of my closest friends and my future husband on this team. Third, as said closest friends decided God was calling them off the stage and into children's church, I was called up as the worship leader and I thus got my first experience in "leadership"-which ended unpleasantly to say the least. This place also questioned every move Dad and I made as a couple. The pressure of knowing what was going on behind the scenes of the church,which I did not agree with, along with the questioning of the relationship with the person I knew with no doubt was who I was called to spend my life with, made us decide to leave.
We took a short break, tried a couple places then started to a church that was recommended to us by Dad's step dad as he had connections with the minister there as she worked as a chaplain around town. We liked it pretty well and attended there for a few years. During that time we played on the worship team some, but our main role ended up being youth leaders. After that experience, our decision was that we would no longer be working in any roles of leadership at churches anymore. It was while attending here that I became pregnant with Pony Gal-several months after taking on the youth. I loved the group like my own kids. It hurt to have to give them up when we left. But when I had Pony Gal, I was in a serious health crisis, and when the pastor is calling everyday not to see how I or my 2 pound daughter are doing, but rather to ask when I'll be coming back-well, its hard to stick around. They thought they tried to understand when I had to pull back a bit, but rather started talking about me behind my back. I knew this because they did in front of their kids, and the kids would ask me or tell me things (I never asked for information but they liked me and wanted to know what was up)that made me very upset. So, we left yet another congregation.
We attended a very large church in Altoona for awhile, but never felt at home there, and tried a few places that we liked this or that about, but nothing has taken off.
After much time thinking and knowing we still crave the interaction and discussion with other believers and having made many friends who believe the same things about both Christianity and family life that we do, we have decided that our place comes in the form of more of a new testament type church-in that it isn't a church but a group of believers who get together regularly (we are thinking once to twice a month depending on interest and time, though we are up for anything) and discuss faith, God and life, while supporting each other in Christian love through a simple fellowship time and food. Basically, a big ol' natural parent driven Bible study small group. Any of my readers out there who fit this description (Christian and likes natural freakiness for everyday living-no you don't have to be a parent, though kids are absolutely welcome. I am so tired of being excluded because my son still nurses and I can't take him...) are welcome to comment and to come whenever our first get together is. I will most likely start a blog to accompany the group-to post when we are meeting, what we are going to talk about, what we talked about at the last group, that sort of thing (this is the beginning of the end, isn't Sarah-that'll be two blogs, and I already have need for two more for other things...) so I don't clutter this one for folks who just want to listen to me whine over here, er, I mean talk about life on the farm :) I want thoughts right now, though. Comment on whether you would be interested. What days and times would work for your family? I would have it here at our place, probably in the basement so the kids would be able to have plenty of room to play if they found the discussion boring:) And we are handicap accessible for, cough, certain people I EXPECT to come, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Any thoughts, ideas, questions, any of it is welcome in the comments and I will post the link to the group's blog (which I think I can turn on so that others can post as well, that way we can pass the baton with who leads each time we meet) later.