Monday, November 8, 2010

When your (church) home doesn't feel like home

We're really struggling with something here in Central Illinois. It's been building for a couple months, but it's really come to a head over the past two weeks: Our church has crossed a couple of lines and we're not ok with that. But the biggest question now is, what comes next?

We attend a large (huge? We're over 3,000 members) mainline denominational church led by two exremely faithful men of God. If it were just the pastors, we'd be thrilled and have no concerns. The problem comes from the board, and the way the board is driving the church. (The way our church is structured, the pastors only have so much control. They lead the preaching and the teaching, but other boards and committees deal with everything going on outside the sanctuary.) The biggest concerns are with the direction of the children's and youth programs -- something we've ignored until now, but no longer have that luxury with Blueberry joining us in May. This is the metaphorical "straw that broke the camel's back." We will not be long for this congregation.

This whole thing is tearing me to pieces. It's a constant radio station running in the background of my brain. What do we do? When do we do it? And how on earth do we go about finding another congregation? And overriding many of these other thoughts, how do I both support and submit to my husband as he leads us in this?

We want to stand for truth in the place that we are; we want to honor our membership commitment; we want to honor the relationships we've spent the past 2.5 years building. But we also want authentic worship and the right, Biblical, truth-filled home for us to raise our family in. I don't know where to find that.

So, I have a couple questions for you lovely ladies who are infinately wiser and more experienced in these things than I am: Have you experienced a situation like this? Did it turn out ok in the end? And, how did you learn the balancing act between supporting your husband and being helpful, and submitting to his leadership? I'm really in the dark and would appreciate any insight you've gathered along the way.


Joanna said...

I'm afraid I can be of little help as far as advice goes, but I will certainly pray for you, just like we are all praying for you and your little baby!

Sarah Jane said...

Since the beginning of May, we too have struggled with this issue.

After moving last summer, we joined the Baptist church in town almost immediately - a decision we now regret. Everyone was friendly and the pastor was wonderful, but there was no program at all for children and every Sunday I had to sit with them in the nursery since they would not behave well enough to sit in the sanctuary with David and I. So I got nothing at all out of going to church.

Then in April, our pastor announced his resigation. We've poked and pried and asked and hunted down facts as to the "why" of this situation ever since then and the best we can come up with is that the congregation just did not personally like the pastor and thought they were paying him too much (he was a full time pastor getting $300/week. Is that really too much for a full time pastor who studies the Word and brings it to his people 3 times a week? I don't think so!)

Since then, the church has done nothign to find a new pastor. Women from the congregation have got up to preach instead, or guest speakers come in. People seem happy and content with that.

We started visiting a different, non-denom church over the summer. We've visited maybe a dozen times so far. They have a good childrens program, other children the boys age (the Baptist church did not have other children their age) and the pastor there just arrived, newly hired in June and is an excellent teacher!

All summer I've struggled with church - sometimes not even wanting to go. Dreading to go. Hating the whole situation. For most of the summer David said he wanted to stay at the Baptist church to see if we could help grow the church and also because he has a 3 year term as a trustee here; he has not even finised the first year yet.

So I've prayed. We've discussed the pros and cons of each church and have discussed trying out other churches. In my heart I wanted to go to this church we've been visiting over the summer (I also have a friend who goes there, which is nice for me since I have no women I can talk with at the Baptist church) but I wanted David to make the decision about where to go and make it without pressure or wrangling from me.

Two weeks ago, he said he had decided to join the church we've been visiting! The only thing he wants to do is have a sit down talk with the pastor before offically joining. So on Thursday evening this week we are having that talk with the pastor.

I am thrilled and just amazed at the goodness and leading of God. I do feel really bad for leaving the Baptist church here as there are some great people in it, but it is not a growing church and like yours, the Board has too much power over what goes on and how the money in the church is spent, etc.

I'll be praying for you guys! I know *so* much what it feels like to be unsure of your church situation. But God will not fail to lead you to where you need to be.

Mrs. G said...

My heart's with you. We've been on our own church-wise more than we haven't. All I want is a small group of committed believers to worship with, I don't want/need programs, I don't care if they have a music ministry, I don't want a youth group, just reverent worship. I might as well be asking for the moon. :-( It's hard, but God *does* have a plan, it's just waiting on His timing. Blessings to you.

Jenny P. said...

Dear ladies, thank you for your support. I have no idea where this will turn up, but it's good to know that I'm not the only one who's been through this.

Sarah, I'm so glad you've found a new place to worship. I hope it's everything your family needs it to be.

Paris, I admire your dedication -- I'm afraid that in our home, we'd fall off the routine and just take that extra time for ourselves. Do you have a set pattern or way of marking "church time," or is it integrated into your everyday?

Amy said...

Oh, Jenny, I'm sorry you're going through this. Although I haven't had the same situation, we're still churchless since we married (April 2008) and have been just foundering. None of the churches in driving distance feels right. It's been hard.

And just like you said to Mrs. G, falling out of the routine of "home church" is SO EASY! I can't tell you how many times I've said to myself -- "well, we'll do church at 10:00am." Then at 10am: "Well, the baby's napping and Keith is busy working on the car. We'll have church after lunch"....and on and on it goes.

I believe, however, that you can always change a habit. They say it takes 30 days to make/break/change a habit, so I wonder if you take a month to consistently have church at a certain time every week, then at the end of the month it should have started to become a routine. In theory at least. ::shrug::

I know He will lead you two (three!) to the right church. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." - Prov 3:5-6

I hope your Blueberry is treating you well. Sucking all the energy out of you? :)


Gillian said...

Jenny, I can't be a lot of help on this issue, but know that I'm praying for you! I've been blessed to find a truly wonderful church in Jackson where I attend college... but while my "home" church where my family attends is godly, dedicated, and the pastor is excellent, it doesn't really feel like home any more - I struggle with that a lot when I'm home on breaks.
I hope you'll be able to find a good solution. Praying for you!