This post is one in a series about the adventure of finding a new church to attend after moving to a new town. You can find the others with the label "Church Shopping".
It's been a while since I've written about our church shopping saga. It appears that we've narrowed our church search down to two or three that have, for various reasons (that are difficult to put into words), made it to the top of the list. Likely what we will do is now spend a few months at each of the "finalists" to see how we fit.
In this series, I've written about all of the initial "qualifications" that we came up with, except for the one about mission/service. In some places, the ideas of mission and service are combined and in others they are separate, with service relating more to serving within that particular congregation and mission relating more to serving in other countries. For the purposes of this post, I'll keep them separate, as I'm currently thinking about mission and what it means and I don't have any concrete thoughts at this point.
In most of the churches I've attended, I've been involved in different activities: Bible studies, Sunday School class, Alpha courses, small groups, children's ministry, youth ministry, greeting, writing for a newsletter, etc. Some of those I have enjoyed and others I struggled through. I want to attend a church in which I will be able to serve in ways that I enjoy and that use my gifts. As expressed in another post, this means I hope the church is open to women in leadership positions.
I've had a couple of good conversations with one of the pastors of one of the churches we are considering. I was very up front about my views on women in ministry and, I am happy to report, we were in agreement. The denomination of this church does allow women in leadership (which I knew), however, this particular congregation has not had any women in leadership positions. Because this is common in the town in which I live (as far as I know, there's only one church that has women elders), I am starting to see it as more of a cultural issue that can perhaps change, rather than something that is stuck this way. I was told that while women have been nominated for positions at this church, nobody has wanted to be the first one to do it. I can understand that; it's difficult and scary to be the first one to do something different.
I also have a meeting set up for later this week with one of the other pastors regarding the possibility of teaching some kind of a class this fall. If this goes well, I think we'll be attending this church for at least the rest of this year to see what it is like. And, if I do end up teaching a class, I may just end up putting up the lesson here for you all to use too.
It feels like somewhat of a relief to have narrowed the search down, although, I did enjoy visiting the different churches multiple times. I think, through this whole experience, what I didn't want was to find a church where I was expected to just be the "Good Christian Woman" who puts on her smiley church face in the morning and never rocks the boat. I want to be in a church in which I can be me, in which I can be the me that God is still creating me to be, whoever that turns into. I hope this place is it.