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OK, here is a topic I hope I can get feedback on, because I am in a very interesting quandry! Please note that my specific questions relate somewhat to my divorce, but I think it would also be good to get others to think about how they chose their place of worship and why.

Scott and I were members for many years (like 15+ years) at a very large Baptist church here in Houston. It was a good place to be early on in our relationship because with its size, there was a lot of diversity in thought, and Scott felt comfortable there even though he was not originally a Christian when we met. Well, we married there and several years later he accepted Christ at an event he went to with some of those church members. We got involved with a good Sunday morning Bible study and other ministries within the church over the years. I held several leadership positions in both Sunday School as well as their ministry for working women.

About 2 years ago, I felt a real leading to go to a smaller church because I felt we weren't growing spiritually (either separately or together) and I wanted to have more opportunities to be mentored by older women in the church, which just wasn't going to happen in a mega church where ministries were mostly divided by age group. After visiting several churches, we ended up joining a mid-size Baptist church that my parents were members of when I was in college. I knew many of the people and actually saw some people I had known at the large church because they too had left for similar reasons. I was thrilled to be asked to join the Advertising/Communication committee because I could use my professional skills to benefit the church and in evangelism. I also became a short-term Bible study leader in the women's ministry.

Unfortunately, despite my involvement in the church, Scott started to get involved but didn't stay with it. We grew even more apart spiritually and in other ways, and of course most of you know now that we are divorcing.

When the bombshell hit my marriage in January and I knew we had to divorce, I leaned heavily on the good friends I had made at the large church. And because it was a large church that had programs specifically geared to single parents as well as a DivorceCare class (both of which the mid-size church where I am a member did not have), I began to consider rejoining the church. However, after visiting a few times, even though I enjoyed it, there was just something inside me that wasn't comfortable.

It was then I started visiting the Methodist church where my daughter goes to school. I really enjoyed the quieter, more liturgical service and the fact that Jenna saw her friends from school on Sunday mornings and at churchwide family events. I also liked that their singles dept offered parallel children's programs or childcare for their events. However, when I visited a Sunday School class, I noticed it was not only quite small, but there were very few people my age in attendance (most were age 55+) and some of the people were quite cynical. It was a far cry from the upbeat, joyful crowds I was used to at both Baptist churches I had attended. In contrast, however, I attended a Friday night singles event and it was great - very positive, spiritual, with people from all different churches. The singles minister is also supportive of my idea to start a weekday Bible study for single moms (she knows a number of ones in the church with small children besides myself) with a DVD program I found.

So here I am, a little nervous about the quality of the Sunday School classes at this Methodist churches and wondering if I will meet people at the church closer to my own age, but nevertheless feeling like I am growing spiritually and it's where Jenna can feel secure during this homelife transition....so I've just about decided I'm going to join this church when I start getting calls from ministers at the two Baptist churches I had been attending. One from the mid-sized one understood me needing to go to a church that supported single moms but urged me not to change my membership so I could stay on the communications committee, and one from the large church was encouraging me to try some of their other singles classes I hadn't visited yet and thought it would be great if Jenna were to be in a stronger, more biblically-based Sunday School class herself (she's not quite at the age in the Methodist church where they start teaching Bible in Sunday School - right now, it's pretty much playtime).

Help! I have never felt so torn about church! I want to take advantage of some of the programs I'm already going to at the big Baptist church, and yet I still feel that there is a spiritual growth taking place within the context of the Methodist church I really like and I do think Jenna needs her close friends and family relationships right now. On the other hand, I have been a Baptist for 25 years and it is a concern that the Methodist church doesn't seem to attract younger adults or have strong Bible teaching on Sundays (they do have good weekday studies, as I understand it)...I also love some of the people at the mid-sized Baptist church and enjoy serving there, but don't think that's a real good reason to keep my membership there.

I have no problem attending all three churches at various times and taking part in their programs. However, at some point in time, I'm going to have to make a decision about membership and it's somewhat difficult due to the pressure some of the people are putting me under.

Any suggestions or experience with being torn between multiple churches? Thoughts on how you made the decision to join one or another? Ultimately, I know it will come down to me and the Holy Spirit, but the Bible also says to seek godly counsel from other believers, so I'd really love your feedback!

Thanks!

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Wow Linda. So many changes in such a short time span. I don't know if I can answer your questions, but maybe I can help a little. I would not allow anyone to pressure you right now about membership. If they try, explain that you are experiencing a great personal upheaval just now and can't commit to anything. If that isn't good enough for them, perhaps that is not the right place for you.

Church attendance is a very personal thing. It seems like you know the good and bad parts of all three churches you are currently attending. If you feel comfortable where you are, I would stick with it. I would, however, investigate doctrinal issues. You may find that the Methodist church believe and practice things that you are uncomfortable with (I have friends who were raised Baptist, then married Methodist men, and subsequently had to do some real soul searching before finding a church home).

It would be a shame to commit to this new church and then find out you had some conflicting ideologies (such as who can practice communion, what is baptism for, how is baptism performed, etc.). If you are comfortable with the answers you receive to these questions then the churches are on an equal playing field. If not, at least you can narrow the field of potential churches.

Divorce is a terrible thing. You and your family are in such turmoil right now, I hate to see church be part of that turmoil. Church should be your shelter in the storm. Find somewhere that is YOUR shelter. Your daughter will find friends wherever you chose. You need to look out for yourself right now. If you have a warm, supportive group of friends somewhere, stick with them. I have found that when I can't carry a heavy load, I look to my friends to help me.

I was a Baptist as a teenager and my husband was raised Church of Christ. When we married we visited congregations of both denominations, and investigated both the Methodist church and Presbyterian Church too. We eventually joined the Church of Christ because we felt most connected with the people there. A church is made up of the people that attend there. If there are no doctrinal problems, then feel free to worship where you best fit in. Our church has been through many changes in the last 9 years, but we have stuck with it because of our social support network there. They have brought us through a lot of storms in our lives.

I also think God honors your search. He will guide you to where you can best be served for now, and where you can best serve later. I am thankful that you are looking for churches and not giving up all together.

I am so sorry for your situation. I will pray for your family right now. Not just for the divorce, but also in this new search for a church home.

Blessings to you,

Tina

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  • 2 months later...

Hallelulia! God is good! I have FINALLY found a new church home that is just right...Tina, you were right in that as much as I loved going to my neighborhood Methodist church, in looking at the denomination and some of its current directions, it was just too different from the Baptist church for me to feel comfortable switching. Fortunately, I ran across an old and dear friend of mine who is directing a women's class at a different large Baptist church here in Houston. I have visited it plus a class for single moms there, and it is wonderful. It has a lot of the same qualities I loved about my smaller church, only it's bigger. It's also nice to just be surrounded by godly women to support and mentor me through this journey. Jenna also loves the church and has already made friends with several older girls who are begging to babysit her already! (Got to love that! :)) Thanks everyone for giving me your two cents and helping me figure this thing out. It has truthfully been the hardest thing I've gone through since being separated.

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Feeling comfortable in your place of worship is important. Glad you found a new place that works for you. :)

Peace,

Adam

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  • 1 month later...

Hello. My husband and I were married and baptised Zachary in the Methodist Church. I am now working Sat. and Sun. 12 hr shifts.I am wondering if we shoud go to a church with more racial diversity. I guess it will be up to my husband to go with him initally. I might like a church that has more activities during the week. I am envious of the Memphis area having prayer groups just for mom.s. I guess I could join a circle or prayer group during the week.I am not sure they are in session during the summer.

Thanks for listening.

Laural,

Casey, and Zachary

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Hello. My husband and I were married and baptised Zachary in the Methodist Church. I am wondering if we shoud go to a church with more racial diversity.

Laural,

If you are happy with your experiences in the Methodist denomination, have you considered looking into other Methodist Churches in more diverse neighborhoods/areas around Atlanta? We attend a United Methodist church and I know there are TON of them around Memphis and some have much more diverse congregations than others.

Also, if your church does not offer something that you have a need for but are happy otherwise with your church, would you feel comfortable asking the pastor or other church leaders to help you find programs at other churches that you could participate in? It would be similar to what you refer to about outside prayer groups and would not necessisarily take you away from your regular church attendance. Hopefully they are open minded enough to know that this is for your personal spiritual growth or well-being and they would do what they can to help you find what you are looking for.

Our church often publicizes other ministries taking place in other Methodist churches in the Memphis area. They know that our church alone can not always offer everything to everyone. The small groups aka prayer groups that started last year have been a big success. I haven't joined one yet but am considering it as I like intimate groups for discussion. It's nice to have a group of people you can confide in and ask for their support whereas I might not mention some things in a larger group setting because I don't feel as comfortable.

Good luck and God Bless,

Adam

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Laural,

I am with Adam, if you feel comfortable mentioning something to one of the pastors at you rchurch do it. I know the Methodist church we go to in Ft Worth, alot of times is looking for what the congregation needs adn how they can meet that, you might not be the only one who would like something more. Have you joined a UMW(united Methodist Womens group) our church has several circles that meet at different times and days monthly, the circle I am in is mostly younger moms, though some have elementary age kids, but it is nice we meet twice a month during the school year at a local spot, have a light brunch and talk over either a topic and bible verses or whatever lesson we had for that meeting. It is just a good fellowship time. I always htought UMW was for the older women of the church, never realizing that there was a group for me, we also do service projects throughout the year, and these women are now probably my closest friends at the church. During the summer, we meet weekly and do a Beth Moore study, which is nice.

I am also with Adam, that you might want to look around the Atlanta area for a more diverse church if that is what you feel is right. I guess we just lucked out with the pastorial staff at our church, we have 2 women, one hispanic, and our lead pastor is adopted. We also have a hispanic service that meets weekly at our church, giving our church some diversity, given that they incorporate teh spanish service with the church on a regular basis.

Good luck, and I hope you find what you want/need, feeling at home and comfortable in your place of worship is I think the most important thing. We often are asked why we drive the distance to our church, especially since we pass probably 4 or 5 Methodist churches on our way, or that are alot closer, but it is simple, this is where we feel at home, this is where we are comfortable, and our spiritual needs are being met.

beth

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Nathan, Beth and Adam,

Thanks for your advice. I will probably join a UMW circle and we also have Beth Moore at my church too so maybe I will check that out in the fall. We have a female associate minister that I like so maybe I will talk with her.

I guess church attendance will be up to my husband so I will let him figure it out. But there is a nursery obligation if he uses it so I may have to help out at another time to fufill that responsibility.

I will see how he feels in the fall but I hope he will start taking Zachary on a regular basis.Maybe the new contemporary service Zachary could actually sit through ? Casey could try it if he sat in the back.

Thanks for ya'lls advice.

Love,

Laural, Casey, and Zachary

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