I Miss Church.

“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:1-2

I miss this. Church.

I miss coming together with a family of believers praising His Holy Name in word and in song.

I miss partaking in communion, a cleansing and renewing of the spirit within my soul.

I miss hearing the Word of God delivered by a powerful preacher; not dynamic and over the top, but who’s power comes from a warm heart filled with love for those who hear him speak.

I miss being a part of a women’s group, women’s retreats and partaking in Bible studies (love me some Beth Moore!).

This is why we Christians join together and “go to church”. For me, it’s not about the rituals or the legalism or “religion” as it is about the experience of coming together and worshiping together.

I grew up Lutheran, actually and more specifically, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). I was baptized when I was just about 3 months old. I was “confirmed” (went through and completed Confirmation class) when I was in middle school. I attended Lutheran Bible Camp (one of the best experiences in my life) when I was a Sophomore in high school. I sang in our church choir growing up and later on in life, on various choirs and praise teams. I miss that too.

When we moved to Florida, I found an LCMS church I really liked. When we moved to San Antonio, I found another I just loved (Concordia Lutheran Church), so much so that I even taught at the associated Lutheran school for a couple of years too (one of the BEST jobs I’ve ever had). When we moved to the Houston area, again, we found immediate enjoyment in the Lutheran church located in our community. The last women’s retreat I ever went on was with the community of ladies with that church.

Then we moved to the Raleigh area. Boy, what a difference.

We are now in what is often referred to as the Bible belt – the south. Many of the churches around us are of Southern Baptist denomination (or a variation of that; i.e. a large mega church with Southern Baptist roots). If they’re not Southern Baptist, they’re Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or United Methodist.

I have nothing against those denominations, don’t get me wrong. We’re all Christians! We’re all in God’s company. However, there are only 2 LCMS churches within a comfortable driving distance of where we live and though we’ve visited them, neither meet my needs. I’m looking for that San Antonio church plopped in the middle of Raleigh and it’s not here.

The NEW Sanctuary at Concordia Lutheran Church, San Antonio TX. Image courtesy of CLC.

The NEW Sanctuary at Concordia Lutheran Church, San Antonio TX. Image courtesy of CLC.

What did Concordia Lutheran Church, San Antonio have? Why was it so wonderful?

First, it has the BEST Minister. Pastor Bill Tucker is warm and gracious and when you hear him speak, you feel his heart in every sermon. I haven’t gotten any of that from either of the two preachers at the two churches we’ve visited, though they each seem nice enough, but neither just never really sat well with me for a weekly worship experience. In the words of Simon Cowell, sorry.

Second, it has multiple worship services – traditional, a mix, and contemporary – and in that order. I’m a contemporary girl, though I like attending the traditional service every once in a while too. However, one of the LCMS churches close to us has their contemporary service in the early hour (I don’t do early on a Sunday morning). The other had it at a good time but it wasn’t in the main church sanctuary; it’s in another building where the set up has to be recreated every Sunday to “be a sanctuary” in appearance (It’s a multi-purpose room. Some people are OK with that. Not me. I still kinda want to be in a traditional sanctuary with a contemporary worship experience.)

Third, I loved the music at Concordia. Even in the Contemporary service, if the occasion warranted for a traditional hymn mixed with Contemporary songs like “How Great is Our God” or “At the Cross” or “Here I Am to Worship”, the Contemporary service mixed it in.

Fourth, it was both large and small, and I don’t mean in terms of offering small groups either, though they have those too. Rather, while the church grew, there always was a “small town” feel to it still. I could actually call Pastor Tucker if I needed him and he would take time out of his schedule to talk with me whether that be on the phone or in person. That’s a rarity in today’s larger churches and in my opinion, it’s something that’s missing.

There are other reasons as well but these were my top.

We moved to The Triangle in 2005 and we’ve “tried out” several churches – 3 LCMS (even one in Wake Forest), 2 mega churches, 2 churches that were beginning to plant (one with Presbyterian roots, the other with Baptist), and we even became founding members of a United Methodist that eventually disbanded after all…and since then we haven’t been anywhere else together. I’ve attended the UMC in Garner as well. It was OK. Contemporary service is in the multi-purpose room, though. I could probably get past that. Probably.

It’s funny. I have several friends who have invited us to their churches, I even personally know 3 of the nicest ministers here in the Raleigh area too. The thing is, I still can’t find the San Antonio (or even the Kingwood TX) experience. I can’t find perfection…and yes, in my mind the LCMS churches we became members of in Texas were just about perfect.

I’m actually open to other denominations. I just don’t want LARGE. I need a Contemporary service IN the Sanctuary and later in the morning. I also need a short membership “course” (I have to admit, requiring new members to take WEEKS of “new member” classes drains a person. There has to be a better way!). Oh and one other requirement we have found that I don’t wish to have to participate in – Baptism by immersion.Β  Let me explain this one a little more closely.

I am all for immersion, actually. For someone who has never been Baptized or has left their faith behind somewhere and is making a new commitment, sure. But, to require someone who was Baptized as a baby/child to go through the process again just because it’s not “your denomination’s way”, is just wrong, in my opinion. Now, if someone were to choose to be Baptized again through the immersion method, that’s their choice and all the spiritual power to them! But to require it to be a member of your church body, I just can’t do it.

I think churches who make that a requirement for membership will lose potential members, quite honestly. I know when I find out Baptism by immersion is a requirement to join, I’m immediately turned off. I was Baptized as a baby. My faith is VERY strong. My relationship with Christ grows daily. I am God’s girl. I don’t need to immerse myselfΒ  to acknowledge that. That’s just me. Again, for others, that might be a positive thing for them. Go for it! For me, it’s not necessary.

Anyway, bottom line, is I’m missing being a part of a church family. BIG time. One of the prayers I pray daily is, “God, please help us find a church home that we both want to be a part of and enjoy, that meets our needs.” I believe it will happen someday. Until then, I find myself watching the Concordia Lutheran services online via my Apple TV and iPad. A bonus of good technology. πŸ™‚

Oh and before there’s any confusion, while yes I would LOVE to find another Concordia here, I fully realize I will not find perfection and am open to other possibilities. However, it would be nice to find a late Contemporary service somewhere in which the church doesn’t require Baptism by immersion. Those two parameters I really focus on, if anything. Everything else is as they say “negotiable”.

Is anyone else out there having trouble finding a place to worship that meets your needs? I’d love to hear about it. I know I’m not alone. πŸ˜‰ Please leave a comment below.

Finally, I share Pastor Tucker’s Sermon from January 4th as he talks about sometimes the reason we fail is we’ve set the wrong goals for ourself. As always, so eloquent. So beautiful. And so Pastor Tucker.

(Please note: All comments are approved by the blog owner. I encourage objective and respectful comments to add to this discussion. I discourage negative innuendos and opinions and thus, will most likely not approve your comment. Just a heads up. Thank you.)

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Comments
6 Responses to “I Miss Church.”
  1. Tried a new church today. Loved every minute of it. Moved me to tears. Wondering if this is where God is leading us. Either way, it’s a good sign. There is hope! πŸ™‚

  2. Dean-Peters says:

    No place is perfect, but you’re welcome to join us at Resurrection Lutheran — and my wife attends a Tuesday Women’s Bible Study where they’re digging into some study guides via Beth More.

  3. Good post Lisa! You’re right we won’t find perfection. My own experience is that “church” is the people. There are a lot of things I don’t like about my church but I love my friends and the community. The community and giving glory to God are why I keep going back. Good luck in your search!

    • Thank you for reading and for the comment, Anjanette. While I definitely agree church is nothing without the people and I certainly enjoy being around my fellow Christians, I still need a worship experience that will lift me up each week…and at the right time of the morning too. πŸ˜‰ I need the whole package, I guess you could say. We’ll get there. God will lead us! He always does. Thanks, again!

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