Visiting a new church can be an awkward encounter, but perhaps it’s all in my mind as I visited a church recently and knew within a few seconds that this would be my new church home.
I had the unique experience of trying a new church a few weeks ago, an experience that can surprisingly affect you mentally and spiritually.
My Sunday morning started just like any other. I woke up, ate breakfast and headed out the door.
The only difference between this morning and others was I was about to try out a new church.
I was referred to this new church by my boss who had been attending with his family for quite some time.
He had told me about the environment, and from what I was told, it sounded very different from the churches I had attended in the past.
As a member of a Southern Baptist church, I was born and raised on the gospel and spent a lot of my childhood singing songs from a hymnal.
When I started college at Missouri Baptist University I discovered a new type of worship, much different from what I had been brought up on.
That is what the new church had to offer and that was exactly what I was looking for to fill my spiritual void.
On my drive to this new church I reflected on times when I had tried new churches in the past.
Awkward stares, cold silences, pointed fingers and what seemed to be judgment staring me in the eyes.
I am sure that in reality those were all things I had created in my head as I walked into these new places, however, being a newcomer to a church can be a scary experience for anyone.
I tried to push these negative thoughts out of my head as I approached the church.
Pulling up to this building was very different than any other time I had gone to church. The building is joined to many other businesses and venues, but the church occupied the majority of the space.
Its design was that of an old barn, complete with what appeared to be silos. Strangely, it made the dreadful walk in much more comfortable.
As I approached the front door my heart pounded much faster, and the nervousness started to take over.
However, as I walked in the front door, I had an overwhelming sense of relief. There were no awkward stares or pointed fingers, and instead I was greeted by friendly faces and warm smiles.
There was no need for me to sit awkwardly in the back and wait for it all to be over because everything about the experience spoke to me and left me wanting to come back.
This new church gave me a sense of belonging and excitement that I had not felt from church in a long time.
I enjoyed a wonderful sermon, great worship music and many kind people during my time there.
It made me realize that during the other times I had tried new churches there were really not any awkward stares or pointed fingers, it just wasn’t the right place for me.
It took 30 seconds for me to know that Red Tree Community Church was my new home.
That day I drove home with a smile on my face, knowing that never again would I have to experience that newcomer feeling because I had found where I belong.