It Takes A Village
When my husband and I began our family, one of the first things we knew we needed to do was find a church. The son of a Methodist pastor, Neil grew up in churches all over the state and I, too, spent much of my formative years engaged in church life in Georgia. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, musicals, Wednesday night youth groups, all of these things were so influential on both of us that we knew we’d want that for our children too. We both firmly believe in the ideology that “it takes a village” so we set out to find just that.
We began asking friends in the Lexington area which churches they were a part of and what they liked most about them. Soon we put together our “shopping list” and began attending services. Quickly, we realized that this “church shopping” thing was going to be difficult.
A Tall Order
Do you know how little boys idolize their fathers? When that little boy’s father is also the only pastor he’s ever known (and a top notch one at that) replicating that experience in a new place is nearly impossible. While in theory, we could jump in our car and drive two and half hours to Hilton Head on Sunday mornings for a primo sermon delivered by the best, let’s face it, us showing up to an 11 o’clock service just 15 minutes from our house with a tiny tot in tow on time is nearly impossible. We definitely wouldn’t make it halfway across the state!
As if finding someone as great as “Daddy” wasn’t a tall enough order, we also quickly realized that our peer group, the young professional thirty-somethings, aren’t hanging out in the traditional services we were attending. One of the main things Neil and I are looking to gain from a church family is a tight knit small group that we can spend time with, outside of Sunday mornings, that offers support, social and spiritual connection. The village for us, and for Lileigh.
The pews in the traditional services we’ve attended seem to be lined with more of our parents peer group than our own. While we love and appreciate those folks and the wisdom and guidance they offer to couples like us, we’re really looking for a group that we can connect with over similar life experiences and struggles. We’re looking for the young professionals, the sleep-deprived, spit-up stained, caffeine-saved new moms and dads. The ones who are right in the thick of life and are trying to figure out how in the world to make it all make sense. We need those people.
What we’ve found is that those people are attending the contemporary, come-as-you are, oftentimes non-denominational services and are absolutely loving it. But for someone who grew up in a traditional Methodist church with a great appreciation for the weight of a hymnal in your hand, the glorious sound of a organ reverberating “Because He Lives”, and the reverence for the ceremonial ringing of chimes and lighting of candles, contemporary services can be a bit intimidating. What we’ve known church to be is challenged by this whole movement of Praise Bands, coffee bars and projector screens. Certainly the message is what is important and the delivery method is secondary, but for us, taking that leap into the realm of contemporary services has proven to be a challenge.
Leap Of Faith
When you get right down to it, we’ve just been too afraid to let ourselves be that raw and vulnerable in a totally unfamiliar territory. But if we’re being honest with ourselves here, isn’t that how you make your strongest connections? By being raw and vulnerable?
I heard a quote one time that said, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I feel there is truth in that and I hope by taking the proverbial leap of faith and beginning to try some of these more contemporary services that we’ll find our place. We’ll find our people. We’ll find our village. And most importantly, we’ll find a strong support network for Lileigh offering her unconditional love, grace and encouragement on her on her journey through this life.
To all the other new moms out there looking for their church village too, best of luck! I hope we cross paths!