Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I learned from Church: Part V, the Family Unit

After leaving our failed church plant, we embarked on our Church Field Trips. We learned a lot during that year. Had our boundaries expanded even more. Throughout this time, my wife was always employed as a teacher at the school run by the Mega Church that we had attended since 2001. So it was by default, that after our sabbatical of field trips, we returned to the Mega Church.

But something had changed. The Mega Church had evolved in that time into an even more Mega Church - which should be expected. But more importantly, we had changed. We ourselves had evolved to a place where the fit was just no longer right. When my wife stopped teaching to stay home with our two young children, that was the end of our Mega Church experience.

For the past two years, we have not been attending church on the weekends. (I'll pause to give a moment for the "church-crowd" to tsk, shake their heads, or otherwise disapprove of our choice.) No baby dedication. No dropping our babies off at the church nursery.

We've discussed going back to church. For the past two years, we've been discussing going to an Acts 29 church plant in Knoxville, TN called Legacy Church. Knowing that we are leaving South Florida has made it hard to take seriously the idea of trying to find a church family in South Florida for a temporary basis.

We've discussed taking the kids to a local AWANA program now that they are of age. We've discussed popping into a worship service from time to time. We pray together (watching my kids pray is a wonderful experience). We read the Bible together. We discuss charity, theology, Jesus, good and evil, making right choices, etc. We've taught them the classic children's Bible songs.

At this point, I really have to say that we are living the "Revolutionary" lifestyle laid out by George Barna in 2005. It is not a life-long choice. It is a temporary choice. But neither do I feel that we are floundering in our faith. On the contrary, I think that we are still growing in our faith and maturity. Through all of these different "church" experiences, we have continued to grow. I don't feel like stagnation has ever been a part of our lives these past ten years.

Things I've learned from the Church by the Pool (aka The Family Unit):

1. While at the Church Plant, our pastor used to criticize a Homeschool Family that had 6 children for not "showing up to church every Sunday" and "not committing more of their family resources to the church". Now, I totally understand and have a much better appreciation for that family of 8. They were a more tightly knit fellowship than our church congregation would ever be. To them, family came first, and church came second. Sadly, many pastors put their church before their family and then behind the scenes, the pastor's family falls apart which sometimes leads to the church falling apart.

2. We've looked to a family like the Duggars for inspiration in this area. We are not like the Duggars in their fundamentalism or their sheer size, but still, there is something to be learned by the way that they manage their humongous family and steer them in the direction of Jesus and His Word.

3. For now, I would rather not go to church than go to a church that doesn't fit.

4. Our pastor used to make references to "Lone Ranger Christians" who didn't attend church. There is nothing lonely about a family of four.

5. Evangelism consists of building relationships and theological/cultural discussions rather than simply "inviting someone to a church service".


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