I wrote last week about our visit to a Mennonite church as the first step in a process of finding a new church community. I’m going to try to record my thoughts about each of our church visits. Our second visit was to an Assembly of God church just down the street. We’re staying local with all our church visits because we want to really build a community with whatever church we choose. We want to be able to be close to the people we see on Sundays, to be able to get together with them easily, stop by for quick visits, and be near enough to support each other through whatever life throws at us. Being physically close is, of course, not a requirement for building that kind of community, but it does make it easier, and I find we have enough obstacles preventing such closeness without proximity being one of them.
Assembly of God churches practice Pentecostal worship, which means they believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, is present and active in the world and that is expressed through very emotions, lifted hands, dancing, singing, and speaking tongues. I don’t have a lot of experience with Pentecostal worship services, so this was one of my first. The service as a whole didn’t feel too different from the evangelical church I’m used to: praise & worship, prayer, offering, sermon, final song. It’s a very familiar order to me. But I did see the Pentecostal expressions. I have to admit I can’t imagine being a Pentecostal believer. I’m a quiet, somewhat reserved introvert, so the thought of shouting out praises and lifting my arms into the air with no reservation seems like a far cry.
But there was something refreshing seeing all those people unabashed in their worship. You could tell they felt God’s presence and were experiencing the Holy Spirit throughout the service. There’s something in me that truly appreciates the participatory nature of this style of worship, because I do think faith is active and physical, as well as intellectual. And this service felt active; it asked for your participation. I loved my former church plant because it was active and physical (although not in the style of worship, but rather in its very structure, it required our service and our presence to exist at all). Chad and I are not looking for a church where we sit in Sunday services, listen benignly, and then go home. We’re looking for something that requires us to be involved, and this visit to the Assembly of God church reminded me of that.
These first two churches that we have visited have been in neighboring towns, so the next ones I’ll write about will be ones within our own city limits, very close to our home. We thought it would be an interesting experience to look up all the churches (Christian churches) in our town and attend each one, no matter what denomination. This will include Methodist, Evangelical, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches to begin with. And hopefully among one of them, we’ll find a home.