Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On visiting churches

We have visited a few churches since our move to Florida. It is not hard to do because there is a nice, shiny, big church on every block ( I do wonder how much money is tied up in church buildings and landscaping here and what that money could do to fund mission... ). In another sense, visiting churches is hard to do. I have a new appreciation for church visitors. It is hard to walk into a new building where you know no one and feeling awkward, wait to be helped - to a seat, or a bulletin or to know what one does when he or she enters this church. Some churches are less than helpful I am finding. No one even spoke to us in one church. In another church some people were very friendly and one woman even sat down with us and sort of whispered throughout the service to guide us along the way. It must have been distracting for others but we welcomed her hospitality. It seems every church has a screen where the music and scripture and even sermon points are projected. Unfortunately, the quality differs widely. If a church goes with a screen, at least make sure the verses line up with what the worship team is singing. And, what is on the screen should reflect the same point the pastor is making in his sermon. Speaking of worship teams: some churches could do without them. A worship team that struggles with instruments or singing is not doing anyone any favors. There is nothing wrong with a piano and hymnbook if that's all you've got. By the way, what on earth are we going to do with all those hymnbooks just sitting there unused (another mission funding source? Doubt it - who would buy them except some poor third world church? There's an idea - why not ship them off to them with free shipping included if they speak English, of course). One church we were going to try had a sign out front that guns had to be checked at the door. Were they kidding? We weren't sure and since there were so few cars in the parking lot, we drove on, wondering if their policy was to shoot those troublesome visitors, and that was why their attendance seemed to be down. Some churches have had great worship times, and others good preaching; some were friendly and some not so much. What we have discovered again is that there are no perfect churches. But a church that welcomes visitors and treats them as their guests goes a long way toward covering up other imperfections.