When something is familiar, you usually tend to gravitate towards it. Even though we may like to try new things, new restaurants, new hairstyles, new paint colors…we usually have our familiar staples and things we always go back to, cause, well, they are familiar.
And so as we settled in and starting looking for a church to call ours, we were conflicted. We wanted to try something new and attend a small church, but we also wanted the familiar. So we started small. I’m talking small small. Like right down the street from us, in our neighborhood, about 30 people. It was kinda awkward, and we could tell just from that Sunday it wasn’t the place for us. I don’t think we could then- and even still-put our finger on it, but it just didn’t feel like the spot for us.
So we went to another church, one that we heard of from a neighbor who lives right around the corner from us. We met them the first weekend we moved here! Another small church. And I’m not 100% sure we would have gone and tried another small church, other than the fact that the couple that invited us were both heading to Haiti this summer, and with an organization we love-Heartline. (You may remember me posting about them-I sold the jewelry their ladies made in our guesthouse up in Cap Haitian, and they are the ones we got our dear Penny from!). They are a rock solid organization that after having been in Haiti a long time, still very much love the Lord and the people they serve. So, we thought, if these people are connected with Heartline, we can give their church a try. And off we went. And it was kinda great. Awkward too? Of course. You walk in and it’s so obvious you the new people cause when there are only like 50 people, it’s clear who is new! This church meets in a high school, so it’s got the unassuming, we are casual and not overdoing it without even trying.The worship was good, the kids section was impressive for knowing that they bring everything in and set it up that day, and the people were genuinely kind and welcoming. So we went back the next week, and a few people remembered our names. And that week they had a new comers lunch, and I’m not kidding, almost the whole church came! We gathered around 3 tables, got to meet so many people, hear about their church and their story and then shared a little bit of ours. We were so blown away that so many people would come to lunch simply to make us feel welcomed. And at that lunch, a few girls got my phone number-and actually called me! They invited me to a play date at the park with all the kids. Oh, it was such a simple act and yet so huge for my heart.
Next we tried a larger church. Very North Coast like (our old church in CA). Not nearly as big, but nonetheless, familiar. You could walk in, know where to get some coffee, they had cute kids classes, a nice sanctuary with fancy lights, schnazzy music, bulletins with the classic fill in the blanks, etc. And while we got a few smiles and hand shakes and people were of course friendly (I mean, hello, we are in church!) we noticed that we weren’t noticed. We just blended right in. And, as we later talked through picking one of these churches, that was one of the deciding factors right there.
We don’t want to blend in. We want people to notice when we are gone. We are craving accountability and community… and we’re craving it now. Not something that will take months to find, months be welcomed and accepted, and months to actually start sharing life. Who has time for that?! We decided, we don’t.
So we are embracing the awkward. I mean, my goodness, we joke our life is just one big awkward moment anyway! A small church, when you have very little experience with one as we do, can be awkward. Yes, they have a normal starting time, an itinerary that they stick to, but it’s still unpredictable. You can’t really sneak in late and sit in the back cause it’s not dark and there really isn’t a “back” when there are only like 5 rows of seats. And you actually have to pay attention to people’s names because you will in fact see them next week and look them in the eye. (Which consequently I am getting much better at remembering names-I mean, how many times can you say ‘tell me your name ooooooone more time??”
And so we’re in. We are both feet in. We joined a small group that meets at someones house, we signed up to start serving and helping. We are officially calling this church our home and we couldn’t be happier.