1 Sunday, 2 (very different) Churches

I know I was going to write about overcoming my fear with regards to the India trip, but this came up today, so I thought I’d come back to that.  Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten.  I will tell you about “The Fear.”  Muahahahahahaha…

Anyway…

Some history on this situation…

A few weeks back, I decided I wanted to go to church.  There were a few reasons for this, not the least of which being a desire for community.  I also want to introduce my daughter to different religions, not to mention bring her up with some solid values, so I figure it’s time to start taking her to some kind of church.  I wasn’t sure where to go, but I recalled that my friend Chris, whom I hadn’t seen since high school, was a worship pastor at a local church.  I emailed him to ask about it and he was quick to respond and tell me all about service.  It was good deal for me, too, because I’d get to go to church and see an old friend, all in one day.  Efficiency people, efficiency!

So, Savannah and I headed out to the Sagebrush Community Church.  Their main campus is located out on Coors, a good thirty minute drive from my place, but I figured, what the hell?  (Can I say that when I’m on my way to church?)  We arrived and I was a bit shocked at how massive this place was.  So many people!  And we were running a bit late; how unusual for me, right?  😉  Somehow I got parked and inside, then had to get Savannah checked into daycare.  They have this elaborate system.  The first time you come, you have to fill out some paperwork for your child, but after that, you get checked in at these little kiosks they have.  The last 4 digits of your phone number pulls up your child’s information, prints out a name tag and a corresponding number for you.  If, during the service, your child is in need of you, the number will flash on a screen in the front of the church.  You can then quietly slip out and attend to your kiddo.  Pretty cool, eh?  I thought so.

Of course, as soon as Savannah realizes I’m leaving her, the tears begin.  It took a few minutes to get her to go with the 2 nice attendants in the 3-year-old room, but she finally did.  I then headed out to the church, but found out the main sanctuary was so packed, I would have to sit up in a room in a separate building and watch the service on a live feed.  No big deal.  I headed up there.  The service was very good.  I enjoyed the band, and my friend Chris even had a solo, which was rockin’.  I was quite impressed with the church’s sound system and 3 huge screens.  Very fancy stuff.  And the pastor, Todd, is a really great speaker.  I enjoyed the sermon, and at the end of the day, Savannah even liked her class.  All was well.

Or so I thought.  The next week, I wanted to go back to the church, but Savannah wasn’t having it.  She said she liked the adults, but not the kids in the 3-year-old room.  Fair enough.  I don’t want to twist her arm and make her resent having to go to church.  So I backed off.  It wasn’t until this weekend that she came around again.

Back to today…

I found out from Chris that he was going to be singing at the El Dorado campus, located at El Dorado High School.  I couldn’t quite understand how the church was at the school, but once again I figured, what the hell?  Savannah agreed to go and was in quite good spirits this morning.  (She should be.  I gave her Benadryl to sleep through all the bug bites she got while with her dad.  The child was well-rested.)  On our way into the school, er church, she asked if she was going to class.  I told her I wasn’t sure (I couldn’t see how they’d have a daycare here, though they certainly did, complete with kiosks and all), but we’d find out.  She told me she wouldn’t cry at this church and true to her word, she gave me a hug and a kiss and was off to class.  And I was off to the service.

The band was already rockin’ out by the time I got in there (did I mention I’m often running late?).  I figured since this was a different campus we’d have a different pastor and I had to admit I was a bit apprehensive about whether I’d like whoever was here.  Like I said, Todd is really good.  Much to my pleasant surprise, Todd did the sermon at this church as well, via live feed from the main campus.  It occurred to me that I really like this pastor and I’ve actually only ever seen him on the screen.  The sermon, or teaching, I believe they call it, was great.  It was about relationships and communications between men and women.  Boy, could I relate to a lot of what he had to say!  The music was also excellent, probably even better than the first band I saw at the main campus.  All in all, I think my second experience at Sagebrush was even better than my first.  Savannah would probably say the same.  I decided I wanted to get more involved and left my name and number on a tear out they have in the program.  I should be getting a call from a pastor sometime this week I believe.  I’m looking forward to that conversation.

And then there was the Catholic church…

Following the first service I went to, Chris and I chatted a bit, and we were discussing some of the differences between Sagebrush and the Catholic church.  Our conversation centered on the facts that we both liked the rituals (Chris used another word that I can’t recall) of the Catholic church, but that the content is often not very relevant.  I told him the Catholics needed to take a lesson from Sagebrush.  And I’m not kidding.

So later in the afternoon, I asked my mom and dad if Savannah and I could join them at mass.  They said yes, of course, and picked us up.  We arrived at Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish a little before 5:30 PM for the hour-long service.  Turned out it was going to be a bit of a long hour.

Now, please know, I knew what I was about to get myself into.  I was born and raised Catholic and was an active member of the Church for 15 or 16 years.  However, seeing it with fresh eyes, and the eyes of a single mother no less, was a whole new experience.

First of all, my biggest beef with the church is that there’s no daycare.  And that bugs me.  This is a religion that forbids birth control, yet they’re not going to assist their congregation with childcare?  It’s stressful trying to keep a child under control when you’re at a worship service.  To her credit, Savannah did very well for the first half of mass, though she was running around in the back of the church.  I kept an eye on her and was, for the most part, pretty distracted from the service.  I finally had to take her out and even trying to keep her in the little room with a viewing window to the service was to no avail after a while.  We spent the last 10 minutes of mass outside, waiting.  Not fun, though I suppose it would have been worse in the heat of the day.

My other big issue?  The sermon wasn’t good.  Well, maybe it was, but the speaker, a deacon, was no public speaker and I didn’t stay engaged at all.  I vaguely recall what he said, but this is in sharp contrast to the fact that I can pretty much tell you Todd’s entire sermon.

The other big problem with Annunciation versus Sagebrush is the sense of community and feeling welcomed.  I felt very welcomed at Sagebrush.  People were friendly and several people introduced themselves by name to me.  This didn’t happen at the Catholic church.  Sure, people smiled when you looked at them, but other than that, there was nothing inviting in the way they approached you.  All in all, I just didn’t feel very welcomed there.  And I think the truth is, I’m not.  I’m not Catholic anymore, and that is a big problem if you’re attending a Catholic church.  You’re excluded, no doubt about it.  Oh, you can come to service, pray, sing, etc., but no communion for you!  And if you don’t already know people there, don’t expect to by the end of mass.  It’s just not likely to happen.

Now, I grant you, I wasn’t trying all that hard.  I’m kind of back in my figuring-things-out phase.  Making new friends isn’t on the top of my agenda at the moment.  I’m trying to decide where I belong.  But rest assured, if I had to make a decision based solely on my 2 church experiences today, it’d be Sagebrush, hands down, if for only the daycare situation alone.  That is just that big of a deal to me.

Now what?

Well, I’m going to wait to hear from the Sagebrush pastor.  I want to sit down and talk to him.  I don’t think it will be Todd, but rather some pastor from the El Dorado campus.  That’s ok.  I’m not exactly sure what I want to say to him, but I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  I can talk religion for hours.  No problemo.  😉

And I’m also planning to go talk to the priest at Annunciation.  I want to discuss the daycare issue more than anything.  I’m not going back there if I have to try to keep an eye on Savannah.  I just don’t want to end up sitting outside near the end of service each time.  And I have some other things I’d like to ask the priest.  Maybe I’ll make up a list before I go.  I like lists.  🙂

So that was my Sunday, in a nutshell.  A pretty big nutshell.  I’ll keep you posted on the church happenings.  And any thoughts, suggestions, hell, questions for a priest, let’s hear it!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Oscar
    Jun 21, 2010 @ 22:49:25

    I see your concerns about the Catholic Church. It’s exclusive with its rites and customs. The idea of birth control is “planned parenthood” through ovulation cycle. Daycare can be a big issue.

    What I can say, however is that some Catholic Churches DO offer free daycare while you attend service/mass. The church I’ve been attending at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Lubbock TX, did have nurseries and age-specific daycare, but it’s been hard this season to get enough volunteers.

    What makes a church good or strong are the leaders and the congregation. I have felt the Holy Spirit move through protestant churches, and felt comfortable with other people and their ways to worship the same Trinity, but the truth is that I always return to my roots and my faith. I totally enjoy the structure, but more importantly, the Catholic Church is old, methodical, and has many checks and balances. My favorite part is the cycle of bible readings. The Catholic church has 3 different cycles that change annually, which bring in the message of Christ and the stories prayers/psalms of the old testament DAILY.

    (http://usccb.org/nab)

    The truly devout Catholic would read the stories everyday or attend mass every day to get the fulness of the walk with Christ. The structure brings its people to walk with Christ the same way he felt at his point of greatest weakness while obeying God the Father: awkward, difficult, and humiliating, yet ultimately rewarding. The Catholic church gives the priest a set of parameters to follow while guiding his people and keep the people within the grace of God’s divine mercy and forgiveness, regardless of the priest’s frailty as a human.

    This is different than starting at a point where both God and people are “comfortable” with each other, thereby, making it easier to “ingest” and “digest” the “Good, Fun” Jesus who loves us. Jesus loves us, no doubt, and our sins are paid for, but how much truth about the biblical teachings are some pastors willing to sacrifice in order to make it “easy” for sinners to want to continue their walk with Christ? What will leaders in the name of Christ say or do when they realize the gravity of the souls of the people that follow them? How does one pastor decide the direction his church goes? What council do they seek, other than their inspired understanding of the bible and their inner motivations to expand their church?

    I say all of these things, yet, I am myself, unable to receive communion, since I am not married through the Church. I also did not complete confirmation yet, but I can STILL register in the church. Receiving communion is important in the Catholic Church, but so is the biblical structure it already has in place that brings everyone on the same page.

    I am mixed about having children go into a daycare setting while parents attend mass. I have gone to Mass with 3 children with no other adult to help several times. It is challenging, I agree, but with time, the children become accustomed to it, and there comes a time when they don’t give such a hard time. But children also feed off their own parents’ moods as well. If the parent is uncomfortable, so will the child sometimes be too. Our attitudes as parents makes a big difference, so I prefer to have my children with me, so they can understand the celebration of the church.

    Many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant alike, do not even know the most miraculous stories of the Bible. Very few understand why King David was the beloved of God, or know who Jonah was, or the significance of the patriarchs in Genesis, and their blind unwavering faith they had in God. Most people can’t name even 2 miracles Jesus performed, or WHY the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead and how that came about.

    The truth is, we are all seeking a “palpable” Jesus; one who makes it easy for us to follow at our “own” terms, rather than us following his footsteps and teachings at HIS terms (tough or not). So on one end, I would say that your journey to introduce you and your daughter to a heightened enriched spiritual enlightenment is difficult at best, if you are to accept the basic tenets that they all seem to agree upon: devout meditation to the point of materialistic abandonment. Look for a church that is TRULY concerned about your daily spiritual renewal to Christ.

    On the other end, I would say that eventually, all teachings will bring us all back and re-unite us to the basic principle that Christ needs us to be spiritually prepared to receive the gifts he has stored for us once we are reclaimed from sin at death.

    Reply

  2. Kristin
    Jun 23, 2010 @ 22:29:08

    Thanks for the comment, Oscar! All valid points and things I’m definitely going to consider.

    -Kristin

    Reply

  3. Trackback: So Why I Should I Believe in Jesus? A Talk with Pastor Vince « Upside Down Love

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