Different Strokes July 18, 2006Posted by Andy in andy roth, soapbox.
7 February 2005
We’ve been looking for a new church since we’ve moved to Maryland. Yesterday we went to a church that met our limited criteria for a first visit. Lacking good sources of information, this criteria is based mainly on denomination and location (I also use how cool the name sounds to settle a tie-breaker). As we approached the building, I began to suspect that we should have done more research.
Several members of the congregation were amiably chatting outside the church door. These ladies all had something in common that the four of us didn’t. We entered the church and discovered that we stood out, and not just because we were under dressed. Though this difference was obvious to everyone, no one we met mentioned anything about it to us. Everyone was quite friendly and welcoming, more so I think than at other churches we visited. Despite this, we still felt uncomfortable in a way we were unaccustomed to. (Aside: I say “we” felt uncomfortable, but it would more accurate to say “Shelley and I” since Alex and Ella were oblivious to the situation. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could be so oblivious?)
Being unsure of what to do, I’ll admit to looking for a way to sneak out. I don’t know if it was out of respect, curiosity for a new experience, or fear of embarrassment, but we decided to stay. We dropped the kids off in the nursery and found ourselves a pew. One thing I worry about when visiting a new church is if something were to happen with one of the kids, how would the nursery attendant locate us among the congregation? I did not have that worry this time.
As the service proceeded, I discovered that some of my preconceived notions of what would occur were not completely wrong. What I found more significant was how different this church wasn’t from what I was used to. The style might have been different, but the message was the same.
I doubt we will go back to this church, but hopefuly we gained a little perspective from our unplanned adventure. I’ve come to realize more and more that the farther I get out of my comfort zone, the more likely I am to have interesting experiences.