Church Tour: The Decision

It's hard to believe we started this process in December of 2008. That's almost a year ago! In February, we felt it was time to move on officially from our last church (where we had a great experience) and visit all kinds of different churches. We had a goal to choose a new church by our European trip in July, but we didn't make it. So, here we are in October. And we've found a new home!

Drum roll please...

Riverside United Methodist Church
touched our heart so much the first time we visited in June, and has continued to bless us every Sunday we've been. Every time we tell someone we decided on this church, they ask, "What do you like about it?" I'll tell you!

-It's tiny. Like 75 people or less. We like not getting lost in the crowd and people recognizing us on Sundays.
-We like Methodists. Of all the denominational doctrines, we seem to align most closely with Methodist. Every Methodist local church is REALLY different, though, and many are not as Gospel-centered as we like. Riverside is all the things we love about Methodist, and very few of the things we don't.
-Women are fully welcomed and recognized as pastors, leaders, laypeople, and everything else. Their last senior pastor was a woman, and now the pastoral staff consists of a male senior pastor, a female associate pastor, and a female pastoral intern. I can't tell you how much this means to us, to have men and women serving together as pastors, as servant leaders, fully using their gifts and acting out God's calling without discrimination.
-The congregation is predominantly African American. As we said before, it became clear to us fairly early on our tour that we wanted to be somewhere multi-racial or at least not predominantly white. We have a heart for racial reconciliation, and we desire the rich experiences that come from being in fellowship with diversity.
-We LOVE Sunday services. We love the 9 person choir, the lectionary readings, the acolytes, the clapping, the singing, the prayers, the extended greeting time, the intentionality of everything. We love how we connect with God and how that time feels sacred.
-Everyone preaches. We've been four times and heard 4 different people preach. The whole pastoral staff preaches, allowing each person to use their gift of teaching and preaching. Each sermon we've heard has spoken directly to us, with a good mix of conviction, hope, and perspective.
-There are only a few church activities each week. We wanted to be somewhere that we didn't feel obligated to spend every night doing something church-related, and it's nice to be somewhere that we don't have to do 12 things to feel connected. There's a weekly Bible study and bi-monthly outreach opportunities, a fourth Sunday dinner, and that's about it. It's great.
-It feels very genuine and authentic. It's not very slick, sometimes there are technical difficulties no one can solve, and no one is trying to impress me with a gimmick.

We have not made any decisions about "joining," though we most likely will. And we are in the honeymoon phase, we realize that. We are finally at the place where we realize there will be things that go wrong, possibly people that hurt us, things we don't agree with, etc. And that's ok. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. And surprisingly this church doesn't "have" some things we thought might be important, like people our age, small groups, etc. But it feels like more than enough right now. We are very grateful to God for our last church, the church tour journey, and our new home.

Solo dei gloria.

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