January 27, 2013

New Church Home

Marcus and I left our church of 9 years in November. We didn’t make the decision lightly or on our own. We prayed about it, talked about it, and I even cried about it. Marcus and I truly became followers of Christ at Great Hills. We joined in 2003- faced 4 years of infertility and welcomed Abby as members of that church. Abby was dedicated and formed the sweetest little friendships there. We worked in the child care area, in VBS, and in our bible life class. Walking away from all of that will stand as one of the hardest decisions we have ever faced. I don’t feel it appropriate to hash out online why we wanted to leave- I don’t want to discourage anyone from leaving a church when it is where they feel God wants them to be. I knew that to grow spiritually and to fulfill our goals for our family, we needed something new. But, the girl in me who had made so many memories and so many friends was terrified of starting over.

Today, I cried while singing in church, just like I did the first Sunday we visited Great Hills in 2003. This time it was to 10,000 Reasons. Then, it was The Air I Breathe. Those songs and those moments will stick with me. The crying in church, as silly as it sounds, was the last little confirmation I needed that we had found our family’s next church.

Let me tell you- God knew what we needed and has given us such wonderful love in this process. We have only known one church. Leaving that isn’t easy, but He has reassured us in so many ways. It almost feels like buying a car or a house. You make a list of what you need in a church, what you want to have, and what you don’t want. This is likely the place where our daughter will grow up- it needs to be good!

After making our list through many conversations, we looked around at prospective churches in our area online. We had to have a strong children’s program that offered children’s church for a few years beyond kindergarten, active Bible life classes that met on Sunday morning, an outward focus, and we wanted it to be within 15 minutes of our home. Only a few fit our needs and we first visited The Church at Canyon Creek in early November. We had heard about it from a friend that attended and decided to start our search there.

We haven’t visited another church and I’m pretty sure we won’t for a long time. That first Sunday, I felt like I was cheating. I had told a few friends we were visiting. They were loving and kind, but I still felt funny being the visitor and not the greeter. I felt like I would get a “where were you on Sunday, I missed you” email and I wouldn’t know what to say! (I did get a phone call and it wasn’t as bad as I imagined!)

We have now been attending for 3 months and little signs have become affirmations for us…

  •            The part of leaving Great Hills that was so hard for me was leaving all of my friends. Flash forward to the end of November (we have been visiting about 3 weeks) and in Cowboys Stadium with more than 50,000 people, we had tickets NEXT TO a family we know at Great Hills. God affirmed for me that in a sea of people, He can still cross my path with friends.
  •           We were so frightened Abby would be sad or not like her new church, but we didn’t know the power of a cash register. Her new class has a cash register in it and that is all she talks about. Every Sunday morning she specifically asks me if we are going to the cash register church and is so excited when we say that we are. She is given take home lessons with stickers each week and can check out sweet Christian books. She loves books and stickers!
  •           While we had been attending Great Hills “Sunday school” faithfully, we had not attended service for many months. We are engrossed with service now. The lessons have been so applicable that we are taking notes more than ever before. Time flies in there and church lets out a little earlier which is so helpful with a hungry toddler!
  •           Using my spiritual gift of administration has always led me to be a social/fellowship coordinator in my bible life class. The first week we visited Canyon Creek, they announced the need for a social coordinator. Marcus and I laughed. Yea, so I volunteered this week to be the coordinator. Funny how God works!
  •           Our new bible life group is filled with some amazing people! Our teacher is about 10 years older than us which is one of the things we first loved about Great Hills and lost in recent years. I like learning from someone who has been though the stage of life we are in. Learning from peers is just different- it wasn’t best for us. The couples in the class have embraced us as friends and we are so grateful. I am doing MOPS, ladies events, and play dates. Marcus is attending men’s weekly breakfast.
  •           Our final affirmation… when Marcus and I were in Hawaii I read a book about sex trafficking and it touched me deeply. I told Marcus while sitting in the pool that I wanted to help, to do something. I knew we weren’t in a place to sponsor another child or donate large sums of money, but that if I could use my talents as a meeting planner, I would love the opportunity. In our bible life group is Christian-author and speaker Vicki Courtney. I have read her books and have so much respect for her message. She recently brought up a partnership with Compassion International for vulnerable children, many of whom will likely face sex trafficking in their childhood. There was my opportunity to try and serve in an area my heart was passionate about. I have talked to Vicki and we are both praying about ways I can help her in this cause.

I am grateful God has provided for us in this transition. I am grateful for our new church home where we can learn, grow and serve. I am so grateful for the deep friendships I have from Great Hills and will be making at Canyon Creek. I am forever grateful to Great Hills for growing us to this point.

Marcus and I have never left a church to join another one and we have tried so hard to be patient in the process. To stop and listen. To speak and plug in. To be respectful and to be open. I feel like we have a new spiritual home after 3 months of visiting and it feels good.


Ms. W said...

I can relate, as we have recently begun attending a new church. (Well, since June... but it still seems like a short time.)

Anyway, it's hard, no doubt about it, but I'm glad you found a church home.

~kristi said...

Ditto with Erica. We have been visiting and it is tough. But just remember church isn't going to be perfect b/c it is full of imperfect people. But, I am so glad you found a good fit. And Vicky Courtney is amazing, how cool is that.


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