This is one of those things I really dislike--finding a new church. It's like moving; you leave behind old friends and connections, have to go through the whole adjustment to a new body and how they do things, try to find the right classes for everyone, and forge new relationships. Sometimes the reasons for leaving a church are unpleasant or hurtful, leaving you aching and cautious. And inevitably you leave behind some good things that can make you wonder if you did the right thing.
Well, we've moved on to a new church without all that! It's been an amazing experience, peaceful and full of blessing. For several years we've gone to a very large church, a wonderful one, but this last year it was becoming obvious that things were changing for us, not the least of which was SweetPea. She found she really disliked the youth culture/youth group and got involved as a Sunday School helper instead. While that's good experience, we were concerned at the lack of spiritual input from her church experience, as well as a rather jaded attitude we saw in her about church in general. We weren't really thinking about changing churches, but the Lord had other plans.
Due to some health issues I have had for a few months, our attendance over the summer was sketchy, and when fall rolled around, on a whim we decided to visit a nearby small church a homeschool friend attended. It was wonderful, an unexpected joy. Mature leadership, Spirit-filled teaching and worship, and a very loving body who welcomed us with open arms. And SweetPea loved it! After her first time in the tiny youth group, she said, "Mom, we actually use our Bibles!"
Within weeks we were marvelling at God's wisdom and timing. Most of the families in this church are homeschoolers with their own support group and activities. I began to realize how isolated I had been feeling in the large church, and with our families living out of state, how I really missed the family aspect of church life. It's a vigorous body, full of vision and outreach. And they remember our names!
Anyway, it's been such a refreshing and unexpected change. Best of all in my book is the eagerness I see in SweetPea--she can't wait until Sunday. She's digging into the Word, hungry for God, and soaking it all up like a dry sponge. And it might even be that the Lord will have opportunity for her to use her piano skills, something which couldn't have happened for years yet in the large church.
And all without striving and angst on our part. What a blessed relief. And what a profound reminder that Jesus is our Shepherd. He's charting the path ahead of us, planning loving and good things to surprise us with--all wrapped in Peace. Wow. I'm overwhelmed at His goodness, at His thoughtful and tender care.