Several years ago, my husband and I decided to start attending church regularly. Prior to having kids, we’d been faithful Christmas Eve and Easter church attenders, but felt that now that we were parents we “should” be attending church. After doing a little research, we found a church that I LOVED and my husband liked well enough.
Initially when we started attending, I felt like the church was perfect. The music was amazing. Weekly sermons were uplifting and meaningful, often bringing me to tears. The church appeared to be accepting and preached love. My children enjoyed going to Sunday school, while I enjoyed my women’s group. It was rare that we would miss a Sunday morning.
As the time went on, we began to fall out of love with our church. At first it was just little things, but as they do, little things steadily grow into big things.
Gradually we began to miss a few Sundays here and there for legitimate reasons, like we were out of town or one of the kids was sick. Then we began to miss more Sundays for less legitimate reasons like, we’d rather sleep in or we just didn’t want to go there anymore. It became easier and easier to fall completely away from our Sunday morning routine of church, to a new routine of lazy mornings and leisurely homemade breakfasts. It’s been about six months and we’ve attended church, hmm, let me think–oh yes, once.
My husband and I agree that we either need to work out our issues with our current church or we need to start visiting other churches and find a place that feels like home. Since it’s probably unlikely that we’ll be able reconcile with our church, it’s looking like we need to start shopping–and that scares me. Attending a new church can be so awkward! Despite doing some research online and asking others for their church experiences, there are just some things that you have to experience by actually attending.
What if the church isn’t welcoming, or worse, points us out newcomers!?
It’s a fine line between a church welcoming visitors and making them feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s silly, but I personally would be mortified if a church were to introduce us in front of the whole congregation as visitors! I like to check out churches anonymously, and when I’m ready be able to ask questions for more information.
Before actually attending a new church, I’ll definitely do some research online about their beliefs. We know which Christian religions we’re more comfortable with than others, so that narrows our search. Knowing what we might expect will help ease my anxiety, but I still worry that we’ll have to sit through an hour of a very uncomfortable sermon.
What kind of worship service should we expect?
Throughout my childhood, I attended a church that offered a traditional, formal service. Our previous church was the opposite and offered a contemporary service with a band. Everyone worships differently–and that’s a good thing!–but I would feel out of place at a church where everyone raised their arms or shouted “Hallelujah!” I’d be more comfortable with a more subdued worship experience.
What programs are offered to children?
Some churches have Sunday school for children before or after the church service, while other churches offer Sunday school during the church service. I like to know what to expect so that I can clue the kids in and let them know if they’ll be expected to sit quietly while we listen to the sermon.
What do we wear?
This is definitely not The Thing that I’m most worried about, yet I can’t help but being nervous about what to expect. The church we have been attending is very informal and people usually come dressed in jeans. I suppose that the advice that you can never be too overdressed is true when it comes to church.
We have a few churches on our list to visit in the next few weeks. Now all we have to do is work up the nerve to actually attend.
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