Our church search continues. We’ve started with churches close to the house and are slowly moving our way across Lubbock. We are looking for a church similar to our church in Plainview. We are fairly traditional in our worship style, meaning that we would like to have some hymns mixed in with the choruses from time to time. We want a preacher who digs in and really teaches the word, without rambling. In Sunday School, we came from a class that was taught by a religion professor, so we want to be taught by someone who spent more than five minutes preparing and who knows what he/she’s talking. And, we want to find a church with some of the standard children’s ministries. You know what I mean — GAs, Mission Friends, Children’s Choir, maybe Bible Drill would be good too. If possible, we’d like there to be some kids from Emily’s school there so church friends can be school friends too. I rarely had that growing up, so that is not a priority, but it would be nice. Finally, we are looking for a place where we don’t necessarily have to be overly involved right at first. We have had a tendency to jump in with both feet at the last two churches we’ve joined. In Plainview, we created a young couples’ Sunday School class and served as directors, Scott was part of the media ministry, I was the Acteens leader, Scott was part of the Vision team, and I was involved in the children’s ministry by leading a children’s choir, working as a nursery coordinator, serving on the MOPS steering team, and directing the mother’s day out for a while. While we enjoyed the work, it was a lot. And the fact that I actually received a paycheck there made it a little hard to make church attendance feel like anything besides a job. At the church we went to when we lived in Lubbock before, Scott was basically the volunteer children’s minister, we lead the children’s choir, we headed up the apartment ministry, and we started a couple’s sunday school class. While we don’t think it will be long before we find a way to be involved in the work of whatever church we decide to join, we are being cautious as we conduct our search. We’re staying open to where God wants us without rushing in too quickly.
Let me give you a general overview of what it is like when we visit a church. We are fortunate to have the internet available to us so we can scope out the church and its ministries before actually stepping foot in the building. We check out the schedule online and try to arrive about 15 minutes early to Sunday School so we can get the kids to their classes. So, we walk in and are either greeted by someone who will show us around (a good thing!) or need to seek someone out to help us (not great). Whatever the case may be, the boys are always quite anxious to introduce themselves and announce their ages to whoever is showing us to the class. They talk one after each the other after Scott has introduced himself. It sounds something like this, “Hi I’m Scott Franklin and this is my wife Lori. Name Zachee, I’m Timothy, I’m four years old, years old.” Emily very politely walks along behind us and answers questions about her name and age when asked. (What a difference two and a half years makes.) As we drop the kids off, the person showing us around generally apologizes that attendance is low because of it being summer and sometimes we even arrive before the kids’ teacher (a pitfall of arriving early). We give instructions about each kid and get instructions about where we can retrieve them at the end of Sunday Schol or Worship. We check with Timothy’s teachers to find out what is the “norm” for his age about attending Sunday School or Worship, and follow that procedure. Then, we finally make it to our own Sunday School class about 10 minutes late. Choosing a Sunday School class has been an experience in that we are attending classes for couples age 30 and up. Instead of being one of the oldest in the group, we are the youngest. It’s been nice to meet people our age with children the age of ours, but has definitely taken some getting used to. After Sunday School, we pick up any of the kids going to worship with us and head into worship.
Today was our fifth church to visit. We visited Oakwood Baptist Church. It is about 15 minutes from home. This was the church that our pastor from Plainview had encouraged us to visit, so we were fairly confident that it would have some of the qualities that we were looking for. Once we got the kids dropped off and made it to our class, we learned that the staff and Sunday School teacher had received an email about us from our pastor. Anyway, today was the first time in about a month that Timothy had gone to “big church” with us. He had gotten pretty good at it in Plainview, but was clearly out of practice today. He really struggled with sitting still and following along with the songs. We realize he’s four, so we don’t expect silence or for him to be perfectly still. But we do want him to whisper and to at least stand when it’s time to stand and sit when it’s time to sit. We also realize that most people probably don’t even notice our kids, as they are busy with their own families anyway. A couple from our Sunday School class invited us to sit with them during worship today (which hasn’t happened at any other church). They had four boys ages 4 to 9, so there was plently of activity going on in the pew. Especially when you add Emily and Timothy to the crowd. It was easy to tell which kids had been to school and had a basic idea of how to sit still.
Hopefully we’ll find a place soon so the kids can have some consistency. Every week they tell us that the church we visited was their favorite. So far, we feel the same way.