Monday, February 8, 2016

Church Hunters Anonymous

Hi. My name is Kimberly.

I'm coming up on the anniversary marking my 19th year of life. In those years, I have lived in 6 states. And I've been a member at 2 churches. Total. You do the math.

I feel like I have done my fair share of church visiting, considering I'm not a missionary kid. But, I don't know. You tell me. Is this normal?

I hold out hope. Hope that there are those that can relate. Hope that I am not the only one suffering from this disease. And I decided, rather randomly, to write it out. The craziest stories I remember! Therapy, of sorts, I think. At least for myself. Haha! So here you are. I'll plainly state that I probably don't remember everything perfectly clearly, since some of these memories are 6, 7, 8, or more years old. My parents would probably give you slightly different versions, but this is how I remember it. Enjoy.. :)

     Once we went to a church so small that our family of 7 doubled the attendance for the day. Their building was a normal size, so we couldn't have guessed. They didn't even have a pianist or anything, so they sang songs along with a CD of a pipe organ playing hymns. I felt really bad, and almost volunteered my pianist skills, even though I had only just began playing from a hymn book.

     Another time, we went to visit a church a fairly long distance from our house. We didn't know much about the church, but we were pleased when we walked in. The people were conservatively-dressed, like us, and there was a pianist playing hymns softly, up at the front of the church. Friendly members stopped to shake hands and introduce themselves- it all seemed to be going well. When the pastor took his place behind the pulpit for the opening prayer, he started crying during the prayer. As soon as he had finished, arguing erupted in the church. Deacons yelling at each other, and the pastor. An occasional wife piping in, subduing her husband, or else putting in her two cents. It was kind of scary, and we all wanted to leave, but we could hear fighting in the foyer, too, and that was our only exit. We waited a few minutes, caught on that the preacher was being forced to resign by the deacons, and quietly made our exit.

     There was a church we were curious about/interested in about 20 minutes from our house. We did the research, we googled the address, and we walked in 5-10 minutes before services were set to begin at 11. The website said so, and also the church sign out front. When we opened the front door, however, we walked right into a half-finished sermon! We took our seats, amidst curious stares, and listened to the end of the sermon, and the invitation. We thought maybe that what we walked into was just Sunday School running late, but it was, in fact, the church service. They had changed service times, but hadn't updated the sign or website, yet. They then proceeded to tell us about the worship service from the pervious Sunday, and how a man had stormed in mid-service and held a gun on the congregation. If they were hoping that story would sell us on the church and bring us back, it didn't work.

     At a church we visited in Kansas, all of the women over a certain age wore lace head coverings. At the time I was only around 11 years old, and was unaware that some Baptists did so. I was convinced the church was actually Mennonite.

     There was a church in what looked like a two-story office complex out in the middle of farmland. Maybe they just got the metal building at a discount? Anyways, their idea of a warm welcome to the visitors was a hug. A hug from every person in the church, just about. Maybe your church does this? If so, I mean no offence, but it really is awkward for the visitors. Also, at this church, the pianist was at least 70 years old, bless her heart, and we were told she was blind. There was no way to know because she was wearing sunglasses. I found that kind of bizarre. But still kind of cool. If I'm blind at 70, I hope I can still play, too!

     At a specific Texas church, we were seated on the second to last pew, far on the left side of the auditorium. The pastor's kids were behind us, texting, Facebooking, giggling, and overall just doing their best to distract everyone in the entire room. Their dad, the pastor, claimed that the Holy Spirit told him to change the morning's message when he saw the visitors (us), and he proceeded to tell us all how poor he is, and how we need to tithe to help out the man of God. He also gave us accounts of how God has healed lives through himself, and led the congregation to stand in a giant circle and hold hands with one another, in prayer. I held hands with a twenty-something year old guy that probably hadn't seen a job nor a shower in a good long while. Awwwwkwaaarddd.

      Prayer requests are good. Great, actually! I fully support prayer requests, and a church family that prays for one another. But at one church, close to 80-90% of the congregation raised their hands to declare a prayer request between the congregational singing and the sermon, during the Sunday morning service. I'm definitely not saying that I was bothered by this. If anything, such a supportive church family is a beautiful thing to see! But the requests soon turned to "unspokens". And not just "an unspoken", but "seven unspokens, and two of those are different from the seven from last week". Okay. People, I want to pray for you!! But, I need a little more to go on. You're promoting meddling and gossip with all these secrets. This went on for a good 10-15 minutes. Or at least it felt like it... I'll admit that I wasn't actually timing them.

     One church that we actually attended regularly for a few months would bring a microphone to my dad during every service and ask him to introduce our entire family. Every. Service. For. Nine. Months. Good intentions, embarrassing method. Y'all know who you are... ;)

     There was a church very close to our house that my mom liked for a while, mostly for convenience's sake. They used the right Bible, the preaching was good, they dressed up for church like you're supposed to, they had a good children's program. The main thing against them, at least to my recollection, was their music. During our second (and last) visit, the lady in the front row of our section boldly created a dance routine to every song that was sung. The music was Spiritually luke-warm and repulsive (to me, at least), but the dancing put us over the edge and we never returned.

     The very first church we ever visited in Texas was maybe 10-15 minutes up the road. I don't remember it very clearly, but I remember it being much bigger on the inside than it looked to be on the outside. We sat on the back row. There were several blue and pink spotlights pointed at the stage. Before the sermon, there was a baptism. They wheeled out a portable clear-glass bathtub thing to baptize a person in. The pastor came up in suit pants and a white t-shirt, to do the baptism. We all kind of figured the t-shirt was because of the baptism, and he would go change before preaching. But no. He preached in a white t-shirt and black suit pants. We left before the service was over.

That's it. The best stories from the most memorable. If I come up with more, I'll make a part two.

Thanks for listening when I need you. It's been a good session. Until next time!

Kimberly, Church Hunters Anonymous


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