Once we had moved, we had to find a new church. I rember visiting all sorts of churches. One church in town spent more time giving announcements about it’s school in some other town than it did its sermon which was a fifteen minute comparison between Christianity and a car. Then there was a church that didn’t have any youth my age. There was a church that had youth my age and an indoor basketball court, but it was just like the one we left so we didn’t want to stay if there was a better option. Finally I had decided that I was going to stay home and let somebody else look for a good church.
They found one that seemed about right, so we all attended the next Sunday. It was quite a friendly place and we felt that we had expired all of our other options, so we contined to attend for many years. They would play songs like “Shout to the North”, “Now is the Time to Worship”, and “Breathe” and then they would play some hymns.
The pastor was rather young for the job. He had been hired right out of seminary school and by the time he was thirty-something he had four kids. Too bad he offended the entire youth group by calling them all heretics. Of course, the slippery slide begun a little while before that. One day, a college kid was supposed to lead the service. She walked up the aisle wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a t-shirt. Apparently she was so distracting that even though she was no longer attending, the next year he instituted a dress policy for the musicians.
I continued to attend even when nobody else in my family did. Once I started going to the third church, we heard the awful news. The pastor instituted a ‘minimum tithe’. He had finally broken the last straw. Several families were so upset, they left the church. Others felt that they were there first and it was the pastor who ought to leave. It got ugly. I guess it hurt so much to hear that news because we absolutely loved the people, we didn’t want the rules.
I guess what I learned about Christianity from this church is that it’s something you have to be committed to. You have to believe that you’re right and what you’re doing is going to lead to something good even if it tears apart a family in the process. You have to be blind to the little things, the red flags, quiet warnings that something is wrong if you’re going to be happy.