Ever since I moved to San Diego five years ago, I've been searching for a church to call home. By no means have I been searching on a continuous basis, diligently visiting all the churches in SD County one by one and scratching them off my list when they don't meet muster (which is befitting of my personality). It's been more of an off and on search as my life changed and things like marriage and a baby started to take up more of my time. Without a personal investment in one particular church, it was so much easier to skip a Sunday, or two, or three. Not to mention that all that searching with no fruition can really wear on a soul, and I started to think that I just wasn't going to find the right place here.
About six months ago, Gabi picked a new book, The Story of Jesus, for her bedtime story. As we were still reading The Saggy Baggy Elephant and There's a Wocket in my Pocket, I thought it might be a little advanced for her, and a bit boring as it covered details that most 2 year olds would fall asleep to. Which actually would have been a good thing, since it was bedtime. But not only did she hang on every word, she begged me to read it to her AGAIN. I thought, this must surely be a sign from God that it's time to get my daughter into Sunday School. And so my search was renewed with ferver.
Based on my experiences in the church I grew up in, and my OCD tendencies, my expectations were pretty high. I needed to find a non-denominational church that had the following:
1) A well spoken pastor with a sense of humor
2) A worship service where people actually sing, and can hear each other singing
3) A large congregation
4) Lots of group activities
5) Mom's Day Out
Apparently, all five of these things are hard to find.
My mom decided to join us on our journey. The first church we visited, recommended by a friend, had a lovely atmosphere, welcoming people, and Gabi liked her classroom (she was happily lured away by the promise of fishy crackers). A few minutes after we sat down, the lights dimmed, and the strobe lights and super loud rock music started. This style of worship service was a bit of a surprise, but we sang along none-the-less. Once things quieted down and the sermon began, all we could hear was the ringing in our ears. And nothing else. For the entire remaining hour. The pastor might have met criteria number 1 (sense of humor), but we couldn't hear enough to know! We later found out that there was an earlier service that was more traditional, for those that still liked to sing hymns and hear the service, and the later service that we attended was for the more hip of the congregation.
We didn't have much better luck with the next several churches we attended. Mostly due to worship consisting of listening to the choir instead of singing along, criteria # 2. Gabi liked them all, though- she got fishy crackers and apple juice and got to play with glue. I'm not a very crafty person and don't like the mess that crafting creates, so Gabi doesn't have a lot of opportunity to get down and dirty with projects. I'm working on letting that go (washable markers have helped me come a long way), but in the meantime, she thinks Sunday School is awesome, no matter where it is.
All of the churches we visited were on the larger side. It's what I grew up with and was used to. And I thought it would be the best way to meet other women and moms. The more there were, the better my chance of connecting with someone. Something was tugging at my heart, though, and I finally asked my mom if we could visit the church that she had gone to once and raved about. It was small, VERY small, so I had dismissed it as an option.
I knew the minute we walked in that this was it. I had finally found my new church home. The pastor is well spoken with a sense of humor, people really sing during worship service, and they do lots of things together as a church family. It's the kind of place where families stay forever and watch each other grow up and experience life. We were welcomed with open arms and hearts, and I am so excited to finally be able to settle down and become a part of a new family. Even if they don't have an official Mom's Day Out.
I might go back to the church with the Irish themed worship service every once in a while, though. That was really great to listen to (singing along not allowed).