It seems like every few seasons I’m back to ‘Church Shopping.’ New cities and circumstances make me a frequent ‘newcomers guest’ of organized Christian congregations. When I go church shopping, it’s usually less calculated than you might expect. Throwing arrows at a dart board is what I liken this experience to, as long as the dartboard is based off of John 3:16.
Today, Bryan and I went to another in a line of serial churches that had it’s own supply of surprises. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were twelve cars. Bryan decided that we should bust a move; I told him we were already there and I’m a church trooper. Sure enough, we walk through the doors and we are two out of a total of about thirty people, with 1/2 of the population being children. We are subjected to a ‘meet the pastor and his wife and his daughter and the music leader and bob’ experience before we finally got settled in. We were handed visitor cards to fill out that included phone numbers (ugh) and were forewarned about the ‘offering experience.’ An experience it was, no doubt. A purple banner ritually being waved until someone came forward and gave up an offering…they walked under the swaying ‘wave-like’ banner that was then turned sideways and swooped them forwards.
I think I got this addiction from my family. During all of our vacations, we tried our hardest to go to a local church and have a fun experience in a new town. I’ll never forget that time in Colorado when we accidentally walked ourselves into a two-hour service that included a lady ‘talking in tongues’ behind us and an invite for lunch with the pastor. I was young enough that this was actually more scarring than interesting.
One of the best by far was an experience I had with my college roommate. Seated in a circular (aka non-escapable) format with a lady in bright purple jiving about in front of us and a featured ‘improve white rapper’ as the talent, it was a sight for sore eyes. The culmination of that ceremony was a group of the congregation dancing around the altar of incense changing along with the crowd in a language I didn’t understand. We were even asked to dance right where we were standing- so I did. The thing I couldn’t quite figure out about that place was how they got away with spelling God as ‘god.’ Hmmmmm….
My mom told me to watch out for churches that make you take snakes from buckets. Apparently it gets better than this.