July 9, 2013

New Church Helps

As many now have their first Sunday at their new church, it is good to reflect on your first impressions of the congregation.

When my husband and I first started out, we served a four-point charge. At that time it was the largest multi-point charge with over 650 members. Of the four churches, three could have stood alone; and one finally did become a station church. But at the time there was a complicated worship schedule and each church had Sunday School every week. Each church was unique and had a different feel when you walked in. Not surprisingly, the church with the warm, homely, welcoming atmosphere was the one that eventually grew to became a station church. One of the other churches was satisfied being a "family chapel," and the other was divided from years of toxicity. To me, that church just felt cold. At the time, I didn't know why that church felt so unwelcoming. It was only later that I learned about their strife.

Despite the differences, however, we were called to serve each church and help them grow to more faithfully reflect the Kingdom of God. By and large, all the church folk were good to my husband and our young family. Although there was one woman who "stopped by" to check out how clean I kept the parsonage. She didn't exactly wear her white gloves, but she did remark that she was surprised how good things looked!? I guess she did this to all the parsonage families before us. Needless to say, some of the church people were easier to love than others.

But we also made some of our very best friends at that charge, and I was sorry to leave when we moved.

Over the years, I've found that my gut feelings about our churches have been on target. But despite how I feel or how they feel about me, we are all part of God's body and we have a duty to work together for the benefit of others.

I hope your first Sunday went well, whether you are new or are returning to your congregation.

Grace, Kathy

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