We Found a Church

We have been going to church again. And you know what? It feels good. We aren't dragging our feet or looking for an excuse every week. We aren't going just because we think we should, or just because it's what we grew up doing. This week we didn't even have a discussion about wether we would go or not, or which church we would go to, we both just knew we would go and where. We want to go to church.

But it's not because we found the perfect church.

In many ways the church we've been going to isn't markedly different from other churches we've been involved in or other churches we looked at going to. Those of you who've followed my blog for a while and walked with me through my idealistic dreaming about church, my ecclesiological wonderings, and my church criticisms, might find it interesting to learn that the church that I'm loving right now isn't remarkable different from any other church in structure. But, I think I am a little bit different. I think having a year without church made me appreciate it more. I'm ready now. Ready to start new. Ready to take church for what it is and not expect too much of it.

So, if this church isn't remarkably different, why this church over the others we tried? Why do I feel excited to go to this church, but didn't feel excited to go to others? Well, I think there are two reasons. One is very tangible and easy to explain. The second is a bit harder to put my finger on.

The first reason is simply, and yet remarkably, the people. Our second Sunday there it took us twenty minutes to leave because people where talking to us. People remember our names and come up and introduce themselves. I usually feel awkward before and after church services, but I can honestly say I haven't really felt that at this church. I don't think I've ever found myself awkwardly standing there while other people talked all around me. Maybe it helped that we knew two families there already (one is a family friend and the other is our old college pastor who did our marriage counseling, but we hadn't stayed in touch with). But, I think even if we hadn't known people there we would have felt abundantly welcomed. Each week people say hello, introduce themselves and really take the time to talk to us. I feel like the people there like each other and love each other well. Bryan and I have already felt very cared for there and I think that's really what keeps me coming back.

The second reason why I want to keep going to this church is much less tangible. The only way I can explain it is a feeling. A feeling that it's where we should be for now. It's a feeling I've had before and it's the same feeling I have about being in Seattle in general. It's a gentle "yes", a calm in my spirit, a peace that we are where we're suppose to be. I know this feeling well enough to know that I shouldn't hold on to it or chase after it. It is a way that God gently confirms things for me and I've learned to take note of it. But I've also learned its not the only confirmation. And it's not how he confirms every decision. It's a gift only sometimes given and I'm learning to take it for what it is and not what it's not.

I've also learned that it's not a permanent gift. It can mean we are were we should be, but it doesn't mean that where we are is where we should always be.

In saying that you might think I'm avoiding committing fully to a church. But, really I just want to be honest. None of us really know where God is going to take us next week or next year or five years from now. I don't know where we will be in five years (in terms of church or anything else), but I know that I am where I'm suppose to be right now and I know that this is the church we are suppose to be at right now too. I feel good about jumping in whole-heartedly for this time and season. And I'm curious about where that's going to take us.

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman