[UPDATE: God answered our prayer and our church is considering an option that would allow us to continue attending! Even though we’re staying at our “home church”, I felt the lessons were still valuable, so the post will stay up. Thanks for the prayers!]
All it took was a ten minute conversation with a pastor from my church. I was on the phone with him for something unrelated, but due to the nature of our conversation, he needed to inform me that our church was most likely going to do away with their night service. I didn’t realize just how badly that would affect my family until recently.
To be honest, I get it. It gets really hot here in Phoenix during the summer (like, 120 degree hot), so trying to power an entire building for an hour or two for a service less than 50 people really doesn’t make sense (number wise), but nonetheless, it leaves families like mine (with jobs outside of the typical 9-5) with little to no options. My husband’s job doesn’t allow for us to attend a normal Sunday morning service, and most churches I’ve found either don’t have a night service, do have one (but without childcare), or do have one (but have unbiblical aspects to them, ones that would make us question where else they interpret the Bible so loosely).
And yes, you can read that last sentence as “I’m a complementarian and I don’t apologize for it“.
But all jokes aside, I’ve been really down lately as I’ve realized that, if my church does, in fact, get rid of it’s night services, my family will have no church home here in Phoenix. But as always, God uses the trials in our lives to teach us things and mold us even more into the image of Christ, and He has done those very same things through all of this.
Here is what my own personal episode of “Church Hunters” has taught me:
- No church will ever be perfect: From the old church we used to attend in Miami to what I call my “dream church” over in Tennessee, no church in this country (and on this planet) will ever be “perfect”. It may be very close, and it may contain all of the things we personally look for in a church, but at the end of the day, the church is made up of people; imperfect people. People will always have conflicts with one another. We will always have differences. There will always be at least one person who “rubs us the wrong way” or “gives us bad vibes”, so to speak. I have never gotten along with every single person at any church I’ve attended (and I probably never will). I made best friends at those churches, but I also had people that simply saw life differently than I did…and that’s okay!
- Sometimes, you have to compromise: There are things I will not compromise on (things I consider more “close-handed issues”), but there are some others that, even though you would desire something different, you need to compromise on for the sake of living in community with other believers through a local church. For example, there is nothing in the Bible that commands that children need to have their own “separate church”. I can’t form a solid Biblical argument for one. So, I may end up having to compromise on that. There may be ministries that I can not serve in due to the times I’m available. Maybe it’s God’s way of telling me He’d like me to serve elsewhere in this season. There are things we should firmly hold fast to (biblical inerrancy, solid teaching, etc), but there are some others that are more preferences than Biblical commands.
- Maybe God wants you to meet the need: While I don’t think God is calling me or my family to start a church anytime soon, that may be the case for others that find themselves in my same situation. Can’t find a church with sound doctrine? Maybe God wants you to start one. Can’t find a small group that digs deeper? Maybe you’re the one meant to bring that into the church or community. See a need that isn’t being met? Maybe God wants you to start a ministry to meet the need. If my church ends up keeping their night service after all, I know now that I want to be a lot more involved at my church than I was before. Despite having only one car, and the church being a bit further away from my house than I’d like (and having two kids), I truly want to serve more and meet needs for others.
At this moment, I don’t know what will happen. We’ve nailed it down to 2-3 churches, but none of them feel like “home”. They all have things about them we don’t like (distance from house, weaker theology, etc). Our current church feels like home, but without a night service, it’s impossible to make it to a Sunday service (let alone, serve in one).
But what I do know is this: God is using this for our good and for His glory.
[ Prayer Request: If you could pray that my church would be led to keep their night service, that would honestly solve our problem right there and then. If it’s not in God’s will for our church to have one, then please pray that God will guide our family to a new church home where we can all attend, serve, and be in community. ]
Grace & Peace.