Sunday, April 24, 2011
Here is the Church, Here are the People....
Ok so lately there have been some developments in Ivan and my life. Well, not so much developments as ideas or questions. Ivan and I have been going to a large church in Houston for the last year now. We also are involved in a Bible study on Sundays, and a small group on Tuesdays. I have also become involved in singing with the contemporary choir there.
Although Ivan and I have enjoyed making friends at the church, we have been feeling like God is possibly leading us somewhere else. We are really unsure where God is leading us at this time, but we are really praying about it. After reading the book Radical, I have really had a desire to do "more". I want to be more involved in my church, more involved in missions, and more involved in actually writing and teaching.
Ivan and I were involved in a big churches (Orlando and Houston), and small churches (Jupiter, FL and DC). It is hard for us to determine which we like better. I have written though some of the benefits of each below, and some of our frustrations.
Things I love about big churches:
1) There is such a wide variety of different studies. This works well for my schedule. Often times, I find that churches plan "women" events in the middle of the day. Since I work, this typically is very inconvenient for me. Big churches typically have multiple times and classes that work for me.
2) There are multiple services and bible studies.
3) It is easier to get involved in smaller ways. A big church can provide opportunities to join the choir without an audition needed etc. A smaller church may have a smaller music ministry and less opportunity.
4) There are more resources and ministries in a big church.
5) Often times the quality of the music during worship is better. This is not alway true but I have found it to be common.
Things I love about small churches
1) Easier to get into a ministry and have a bigger impact
2) More opportunities to teach different studies
3) Easier to know the people at the church. Although you will never know "everyone" at the church, you will know more of the people at the church.
4) Easier to get involved with the music ministry in a big way.
5) Ability to actually know your pastor, talk to him, and bring questions to him. There is typically less of a "celebrity" feel with the pastors of smaller churches.
Some of the immediate problems we have had with our church is that we don't know "how" to get involved. I know there are many ministries at the church. I also know I really want to get involved in a big way. I also want to be able to help immediately (not 2-3 years from now). It is really just a matter of the church being too big to know who to talk to about getting involved. Don't get me wrong, I have contacted people at the church about volunteering etc. However, I usually get on email from someone asking a question, I respond, and never hear anything again. Ivan and I are just sort of tired of having such a small impact. We get lost in the crowd.
I know this is such an issue with many Christians... big church vs. small church. We still are unsure of what to do at this time. We are going to continue to go to our current church. We have made friends there and I am involved with the contemporary choir. At this time, we are just deeply in prayer. It may be time for us to move on, or God may keep us where we are. We also are going to try to get more involved in missions. Ivan has been on mission trips in the past. I have never been on one. I don't really want to go on a "traditional" mission trip, but we will see. At this time, it is just so expensive for us.
Anyway, these are current things we are considering. There are some local baptist churches nearby, but we never really have considered ourselves baptists. We really loved our church in DC (although it was very small). It was expository teaching (basically through a book of the bible). It was also very deep (integrating Hebrew/Greek and historical context). We really enjoyed the teaching there. The other thing I loved about this church was that they didn't take a tithe. This is just a particular preference for us and clearly would not keep us from going to a church. However, the church had a box available in the back for tithe. It was a matter of just "trusting God" for their support. I really loved this approach.
Please be in prayer for us as we deal with some difficult decisions and seek after God's will in this area.