Can I get an AMEN?

By Mir
April 8, 2008

I’ve written before about our decision to seek a different church, because we just weren’t feeling quite at home at the one we’d been attending. This was, you understand, a really difficult decision to make, both because change is hard and we’d been going to that other church for over six months, and also because my ex immediately pounced upon the news as proof that I was a Godless heathen who would soon be decorating the children’s rooms with pentagrams.

That’s just silly, of course—pentagrams would totally disturb the feng shui in there. (I just have them put their voodoo dolls back in their special boxes alongside all the shrunken heads whenever they’re done playing with them.)

Anyway, we’d been to a few churches before settling in the one we’d attended for so long, but now we’re back to trying to find the right church home.

Here is the thing you need to understand about me and church: I’m something of a traditionalist. It feels funny, saying that, because I am not a fan of religions that take themselves SO SERIOUSLY that worship feels like an elaborate dance rather than an opportunity to commune with God. But on the other hand, I’m not so much interested in worship that’s sort of New Age-y or whatever.

I’m a Methodist. I believe in talking about God. I believe in talking about Jesus. I believe in singing songs from the hymnal. I believe in pastors giving sermons that speak to me on a real and human level. I believe in a service that lasts just about an hour. I believe in Communion being open to all who wish to partake. I believe in potluck dinners. Really, it’s not that complicated.

And I’m absolutely NOT saying that my way is the RIGHT and/or TRUE way, but just the way that I like it. It works for me, as the saying goes. In my experience, this is more or less what Methodist churches tend to be like. And I like them!

Now, in my experience up until this point, most Methodist churches are pretty uniform. And most of them offer either 2 or 3 services. If there are 2 services, it’s usually an early “contemporary” service and then a later “traditional” one. If there are 3 services, the earliest service is generally a short but traditional one, followed by the contemporary service, followed by the main traditional service. This will all be important in a minute.

So! Sunday! We had picked out the church we wished to attend. When we arrived, Otto and I were pleased to see that it was much more New England-y than any other church we’ve attended here in Georgia; the building was very reminiscent of the sorts of places we known up north, and that was very comforting. It was also much smaller than the other church we’d been attending, which seemed like a point in its favor because part of the problem with the other church is that we felt sort of anonymous in such a large group.

Anyway, the place was utterly mobbed. We found some seats way in the back and sat down. Someone started playing the piano. And then someone started playing the guitar. And then someone started playing the drums.

Otto and I exchanged A Look.

The music continued for a while, swelling and then falling back, and a man began to speak. While the music was still playing. It all began to remind me of a Christian Rock video. People held their hands in the air. (I have never understood that; I guess it’s a gesture of giving yourself up to God? But to me it looks more like you’re hoping you might catch a little rain, like maybe if you pray hard enough rain will fall from the sky RIGHT THERE and you could then wash your face with it.)

Every time there was a break in the activity, there would be a swell of applause as if the Oscar for Best Actor had just been awarded to Jesus himself. (“I’d like to thank the Academy, and my Father, and especially my friend Judas, because—I’m sorry, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry—um, well, he really made it all happen….”)

It took about two minutes to realize that for whatever reason, the third service at this church was a contemporary one and not a traditional one. Oh, well. We’d get through it, maybe find out if this church offers a traditional service at a different time.

And then someone called up a particular family, saying something like, “I need for the Doe family to come on down here and stand with me, please. Please, Mary Jo Doe and Billy Bob Doe and especially little Cindy Lou Doe. Yes. Stand before me! Some of you know that Cindy Lou Doe came to this family about a year ago from a Russian orphanage…” he went on for a minute, and I thought to myself, Hey, that’s sort of nice, recognizing this family and their adoption, okay, today must mark some milestone (I couldn’t figure out what it was… maybe the adoption was finalized?), that’s very sweet, great. And then the person speaking said, “Let us lay hands on the Does, yes, COME ON DOWN and lay your hands on this family!”

And almost the entire congregation got up and went down to “lay hands” on this family.

I mean that at least two hundred people raced forward to attach themselves to the giant huddle forming at the front of the church. If I was little Cindy Lou Doe underneath all of those hands, I think I’d be screaming bloody murder for everyone to GET OFF OF ME.

Then an impassioned prayer was said, and afterwards as folks returned to their seats, everyone clapped and hooted and cheered.

This became a theme, I noticed. Any time anyone said or did ANYTHING, the congregation gave it up like mad. Every hymn—wild applause! (Plus, every hymn went on for fifty-seven verses, all the better to give the line of ladies with microphones time to really get into their sing-song-y “tell it! tell it! tell it! tell it!” chorus with FEELING.) Everything the pastor said—wild applause! Every random announcement—wild applause!

By the time they got to whatever prayer where people started blurting out “that’s right” and “tell it!” and “mmmhmmm, AMEN!” Otto and I had to stop looking at each other for fear of laughing.

“Um, Mama?” Chickadee whispered to me at one point, “I think this church is sort of… ummm… ENTHUSIASTIC. And I don’t mean that in a good way.”

I tried to breathe very slowly, in and out, through my nose, to avoid guffawing.

I have to say, she hit the nail on the head. I don’t think we’ll be returning to the First Methodist Church of Great Enthusiasm, but I hope God understands that we gave those folks our best shot. Hallelujah, amen, and it was a great honor just to be nominated.


  1. liz

    I love Chickadee SO MUCH. And, um, here’s hoping you find a less enthusiastic Methodist church soon.

  2. Mom24

    Ummm yeah, wouldn’t be for me either. I hope your search for a new church goes better than ours. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard.

    By the way, you are a really, really strict Mom. When my kids are done with their voodoo dolls, they just tuck them back under their pillows.

  3. diane

    Oh my word – Chickadee has inherited both your facility with words and your sharp humor. What a perfect observation.

    As a fan of the less “enthusiastic” types of services, I’m praying you will find the perfect spot.

    But maybe not too soon – enjoying these stories too much! (and am going straight to hell for that!)

  4. Caution

    I’m having the same struggle right now. Why do churches think everything has to be a rock concert or political rally? Why do pastors think emotions have to be at their peak in order for the Lord to talk to us?

  5. Kim

    I can understand your need to find “the right fit”. Being Catholic, I have searched since coming to the city I am in to find the Church that reminded me of the Church of my youth. I have been a member of no less than 10 different congregations, before finally settling into the Church to which we currently belong. Two weeks ago, during one of our daughter’s sacrament classes, one speaker told us how you could go to any Catholic church anywhere and feel like you belong. I beg to differ. Things seem to be changing again, and being a bit of a traditionalist, I don’t like it one bit. I miss Latin. I miss the pomp and frills. I miss hearing the organ and the choir. I understand the Church is trying to bring in the youth of today, but in the process they are alienating the parishoners that are already there.

    I find that if you hide the voodoo dolls in with the beheaded Barbies, they don’t stand out at all..and they are easily accessible.

  6. Leandra

    Hahahahahaha! Enthusiastic. I had a friend whose very young daughter called the contemporary service “loud church” which pretty much sums up what I think of those kinds of services.

    I know it’s kind of far, but I hope you might consider my mom’s church. If I weren’t Catholic now I’d probably go there. They do some really cool stuff for kids.

  7. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Chickadee is the best. Absolutely, the best.

  8. Tammy

    Oh dear. I would have been a tad uncomfortable too with that much “enthusiasm”. LOL @ Chickadee–she hit the nail on the head.

  9. MeL

    I just snorted coffee through my nose with the laughing at this. It was painful and delightful, all at once. Sort of like your church experience.

    Also, you remind me of my one experience visiting a New Age Baptist congregation. Very similar. Having been raised among the Mormons, I wasn’t sure what to think of the rock drums and guitar solos, the “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!”s. I spent the whole meeting with a deer-in-headlights look.

    Good luck with your search! We currently attend the Church Of ESPN Sundays. The congregation is small, but the food is awesome…

  10. Sister Honey Bunch

    I’m Catholic and our church does offer a bit of a more contemporary Mass. But that only means the songs are more upbeat. I am happy with either one.

    It’s tough trying to find the right fit. Sometimes, the more contemporary services don’t feel “real”. Not that they aren’t real and genuine, but if you’re not comfortable it’s not a good place for you to be able to fully worship.

  11. Mandee

    Too bad I’m about an hour and 1/2 south west of you because my Methodist church would be the perfect fit. And we could really use some altos.

  12. AmyM

    We haven’t gone to church in almost 2 years. And like you, we hunted for a while before settling in a church that felt like home. We ended up leaving because of some split with the church board that divided the entire church and everyone we were close to left. Including the pastor.

  13. BethR

    Godless Heathenism is underrated as a approach to spirituality in my opinion. We get fewer potlucks, but at least no one inflicts guitars and enthusiasm on us too early on Sunday mornings. GH is pretty much my religion of birth, but my husband came to it later in life, so, like all converts, he’s more fervent about it. Occasionally I’ve pondered attending the Unitarian church where we were married just for the community and potlucks and all that, but I don’t think he could tolerate even a Unitarian approach to these matters.

  14. All Adither

    I wish I could give you words of wisdom about your church switch, but I am a Godless heathen. Or, agnostic as I prefer to say. Wish I wasn’t, but there it is.

  15. Becky

    As someone who was never taken to church I find these entries some of the most interesting. My parents decided to raise my brother and myself without any religion and occasionally I feel like I really missed out, especially in respect to having a constant community. I did have some experience in elementary school because my parents also decided to send me to an Episcopalian school that came with its own church. Of course, when I tried out for the choir in 3rd grade I didn’t make it (okay, um, there were two lines of text for All Things Bright and Beautiful and I seriously couldn’t tell which one I was supposed to sing, not that I was an awful singer…maybe), so I became an alcolyte in 4th grade. I still have the hymnal that I was given in 8th grade for helping out there all of those years.

    Right, so, at least I now know to be careful if I ever go church-searching. I never even knew the same chuch’s services could vary.

  16. Kimberly

    Did you see the Borat movie? I was having flashbacks about the laying of hands thing. OMG, I would need therapy if I were poor Cindy Doe!! LOL

    I was raised by Catholic parents (she used to be a nun, he almost was a priest…so, we’re flawed just like Jesus likes us). And we don’t even like to hold hands much less put them in the air at church. That much enthusiasm totally freaks me out and I begin to sweat.

    I don’t believe in sweating in church.

  17. Sophie/Stacey

    You got your AMEN! That’s one of the reasons I became an Episcopalian about 20 years ago. But you know, that’s getting stale for me, so we’ve found a “high church” Methodist church where we enjoy going. My hubby probably would have walked out of that “enthusiastic” service. Well, there’s a lid for every pot. Here’s hoping you find a church that suits you soon.

  18. Sara

    My husband and I once attended a church service with one of my husband’s clients. It was a bit more, er, “enthusiastic” than either of us was used to. (There were tambourines! And streamers! And dancing!) After two and a half HOURS of service I had a rip-roaring migraine that laid me up for the rest of the day. (And thank goodness, because the Client Family invited us out to lunch after the service and we had to claim illness.) We now refer to that church as The Church of the Holy Migraine.
    I wish you better luck with the next church you choose to visit. Oh-and with hiding the voodoo dolls. Around here we hide them in plain sight. They just blend in with all the other flotsam and jetsom.

  19. Courtney

    I remember when I was in youth choir at church our director reminding us that when we sing in church or do a reading, it is not a performance. I’ve been to churches where it feels like everyone is performing, and it never feels right. Keep looking till it feels right, I played goldilocks for a while after I moved, but I’ve found my just right place.

  20. steve

    I don’t think there’s a church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in Georgia, yet. I think Otto would enjoy starting one, and you can make pirate costumes for Chickadee and Monkey…

  21. Patricia

    I love ‘high church’ — I love hymns from 200+ years ago. I love ministers who can draw a line between the Bible and today. I like an order of service that makes sense, is consistent, and fairly logical (i.e., the way I grew up). But mostly I like a church who stands for something.
    I’ve half heartedly tried to find a church and I kick myself every Sunday morning that I don’t keep trying. But I just want to poke my own eyes out with those pew pencils when a church launches into the 7-11 songs (you know 7 words repeated 11 times.)

  22. becky

    That there sounds like a Pentecostal church in Methodist clothing. And I should know as I are, er, were one. Pentecostal, that is. Hoo boy, you should see people’s faces the first time they come in! I grew up going to a church like that, so it never seemed odd to me. But looking back, I’m surprised my hubby didn’t run away the first time I took him to my mom’s church (while we were visiting, so he could meet some of our friends & family). Um, at least no one broke out into tongues? Because THAT is a post in and of itself.

    (I have the utmost respect for my mother’s beliefs. I’m just not so sure that they’re mine anymore. Like Mir said, they take themselves just a bit too seriously for my taste.)

  23. mammafor2

    I am laughing so hard, right now! My DH is a Minister and we have one service like that! I have not attended,
    one because 8 a.m. is a little to early for me and the kiddos, and two, bc it may just rain in the building that day (wouldn’t want to be caught in the flood!).

  24. Amy

    Oh Mir, I know exactly how you feel. I’m from a small town in Alabama and when I moved to Atlanta it was like a whole truck load of churches were dropped on my head. I knew what I was used to and it just wasn’t anywhere to be found. My husband and I probably visited 50 churches or so from Baptist to Episcopalian. We searched and searched and finally found a Methodist church right down the road from us that we had kind of overlooked. It’s so close that we can walk (well, it’s like 2 miles, but I did walk it one time). It was a really difficult time especially since we were both newly married when we moved to Atlanta and we both grew up in different circumstances – me being in church every time the doors opened and my husband going on Christmas and Easter. It was a challenge, but one I’m glad that we had. Keep looking, your church is out there.

  25. donna

    I have tears in my eyes . . . from laughing so hard. That was great.
    Finding a church that makes you feel ‘at home’ is so hard. I wish you much luck.

    (BTW, I loved the speech “and my friend Judas . . .” memorable!)

  26. Jamie AZ

    Oh, dear lord! Amen, Mir. I hope you find a new church home soon!

    On a slightly related note, my 5 year old nephew has taken to calling the cemetery near his house “heaven” whenever they drive by since he knows that those who die go to heaven. So sweet.

  27. Krista

    “I believe in talking about God. I believe in talking about Jesus. I believe in singing songs from the hymnal. I believe in pastors giving sermons that speak to me on a real and human level. I believe in a service that lasts just about an hour. I believe in Communion being open to all who wish to partake. I believe in potluck dinners. Really, it’s not that complicated.”

    Hmmm. Are you sure you’re not an undercover Lutheran? Because we’re ALL ABOUT the potluck. Oh, and those other things too.

  28. The Other Leanne

    Last year my bro-in-law converted to Catholicism and my OTHER sister and I went to the Mass after years of abstaining. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because this clearly was not my mother’s Mass! Liturgical dance, rock band, lyrics on the screen, etc. And when the big screen TV is 3 times larger than the crucifix at the altar, you know the priorities are mis-aligned. Did I mention there was a hot tub up front for the total-immersion baptisms? Since when do Catholics do the Big Dunk?
    Oy. I say bring back the solemnity and reflection and a little Latin would be nice, too. Smoke the place up with strong incense to make me woozy and teary-eyed. Let the priest turn his back and huddle over the chalice so I can maybe believe he really is doing some magic transubstantion. Now THAT’s THEATER!
    Judging from all the comments your post generated, there’s a lot of “Huh?” in the nation’s churches.

  29. Anna

    Well, at least you have narrowed the field a bit! *ahem*

  30. Aimee

    Jesus’ Oscar acceptance speech is the best thing I’ve read in WEEKS! You are too funny.

    As I was reading your account of the FMCoGE, my eyebrows just kept inching higher and higher until they disappeared into my hair. And then I read Chickie’s comment and I LAUGHED and laughed. That’s a funny kid you got there.

    In closing, I would like to say that I agree with Becky, it sounds sort of Pentecostal. Hey! at least there weren’t any snakes. Were there???

  31. Julie Stiles Mills

    You SO speak for me, woman!

    Except I’m a Baptist, escaping the typical Baptist church service by attending a local Methodist church because they have the traditional service we prefer. Even though we’re Baptist, they let us in because, you know, the “Open Doors” thing.

    I’m a vocalist and frequently sing solos at church. In two weeks they are having auditions for the “Front Line Worship Team” for the contemporary service and I keep getting asked about it – because, after all, I sing. Yeah. I don’t think so. I had to leave a church before because people couldn’t accept that I didn’t “use my gifts” the way they thought I should. I wrote about it in the last few paragraphs of my post called even GOD rested at

    Your description of what you like in a church service was on the dead ON TARGET for me.

  32. Suebob

    Chickadee is a cake-taker, as my sis would say (“She really takes the cake!”)

    Finding a church home IS hard. Even within my own denomination, there have been churches I couldn’t stand. Like the small one where, during singing, the minister would come around and shove a microphone in your face so you could solo – whether you could sing or not…AAAAGH.

  33. Sara

    Suebob, I’m nonplussed. That is funny. Or scary. I can’t decide which.

  34. andi

    AMEN! At least your church shopping is entertaining. I have a few horror stories of trying to find our church home. Hope you find the right place for you and your family soon.

  35. elizabeth

    I was raised Presbyterian. and we were a polite, quiet group (well, except for the youth retreats but that is a-whole-nother thing) there were a good number of hymns, some bells (that was fun) but no raised hands, or random amens, no laying on of hands (again, except for those youth retreats) I don’t remember too many potlucks, but my family didn’t always participate fully. they may have changed in the million years since I attended. I think if I were motivated to find a church, I’d lean that way. but wonder if it still exists. specially here in the bible belt.

    btw: love Chickadee’s comment!

  36. a different kate

    Well, I am a Godless heathen, just ask my in laws, my husband, Paco, is a Methodist that likes a traditional service. Even so, we both call the hands in the air antennae. Apparently it gives them better reception.

  37. Vane

    I’m Catholic so I have never attended a Christian service, however, I live nearby a Christian church (no idea what kind) and it never ceases to amaze me how LOUD their services are.

    I’ve heard them sing to a broad variety of rhythms, from rock to salsa and even mariachi and mexican “corrido” once. I’m guessing their service must be a lot like the one you describe, which, I’m sorry, I just find very odd.

    I hope you find a church that feels like home very, very soon. I have read you for a while and I know that being able to “connect” with God through worship has helped you on the hard times. Keep looking, you’ll find the right fit, you’ll see.

  38. Kemi

    “Every time there was a break in the activity, there would be a swell of applause as if the Oscar for Best Actor had just been awarded to Jesus himself. (‘I’d like to thank the Academy, and my Father, and especially my friend Judas, because—I’m sorry, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry—um, well, he really made it all happen….’)”

    I laughed so hard at that paragraph, I swear a wet myself just a little.

    Here’s to hoping you find something more to your liking. And much, MUCH less enthusiastic.

  39. Cele

    I am part of a faith where you have two types of service. Structures, unstructured. Structured is like most non enthusiastic worship services. I perfer unstructured, but I can see how it would confuse people A LOT. So the enthusiastic worship services kind of boggle my mind. I keep expecting them to suddenly start flicking their bics and swaying back and forth.

  40. Lar

    Oh, that is hilarious–I don’t know how you kept from laughing! During our own church search last summer we visited a service wherein the pastor and his wife, apparently filled with the Spirit, began running back and forth in front of the congregation waving their jackets in the air. I managed to turn my laughter into a coughing fit.

  41. Katie

    I’m a boring Catholic too so I like Mass to be as traditional as possible (well, Vatican 2 traditional, I haven’t been to a Latin one yet). A few songs, the readings, a nice homily, Communion and then out the door! All the hand holding, clapping, and “Praise Jesus!” gives me hives.

  42. Donna

    It is really interesting to see this from an “outsiders” point of view. The church you visited sounds just like all the churches I’ve attended my whole life (and still do). But they have all been Pentecostal or Assemblies of God. I am shocked to hear you were in a Methodist church! Most pentecostals consider methodist churches very boring and slow. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s your preferred style. There is only one God, and as long as you love and worship Him, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter how you do it or what denomination your church is. This is just fascinating to me hearing that choruses, drums, raising hands, laying hands on people to pray for them, being “enthusiastic”, etc is downright scary and/or hilarious to people who aren’t used to it. Sounds like a perfectly normal church to me!! I truly hope you find a great church that you love and where you are comfortable.

  43. Sheila

    Catholic, here. We’re not so much with the enthusiasm– we kneel. And then stand. Then, we kneel again. “Come on Down!” would never happen in my church. Once in a while, we get crazy with a guitar at Youth Mass. Woot!

  44. Eve

    I’ve never had to church shop…that’s the comforting thing about playing on Daring Young Mom’s team…our churches are all the same no matter where you go. I’m scared of the Christian Rock thing, I’m more traditional as well. I guess I feel that God and Jesus are a sacred subject that shouldn’t be treated like something I would download on my ipod and work out to. I like to think of it as a reverance for them.

  45. Randi

    AMEN SISTA!! I honestly can say that I don’t “get” church. I like the movie Stigmata, where they talk about the true church “not being in a building made of brick and stone” (or something like that). While I understand people who want to go to church, I find that I’m comfortable talking to God in the great outdoors.

    There’s no freaky “enthusiastic” people in the woods…just hunters :)

  46. Megan

    My kids called those “purple” churches because they advertised heavily and with so! much! purple! Surprisingly the purplest one we saw was in Anchorage, AK. Who knew the moose needed so much energetic goditude?

  47. dad

    With pearls of wisdom like that falling out of her mouth Chickadee must be receiving some divine guidance. In about ten years I expect she and you will both be writing hysterical blogs (sort of like dueling banjos) and making speeches at Our Lady of Perpetual Laughter.

    In the interim, I understand the Druids are making a resurgence. Furthermore, they have great outfits and their music is easy to learn. Interested?

    Lighten up.

  48. Shawn

    Been there and done that!! I’m a Methodist too, (my husband’s a good ‘ol southern Baptist boy), and after we moved to Nashville we shopped a non-denominational church and got in the middle of an oil-annointing, tongue-speaking, laying on of hands healing for a case of strep throat! They also requested prayer for Pookie the cat that day.

    We high-tailed it out of that place and never looked back!

  49. Brandy

    OMgosh, I laughed at this post. *g* I was raised Caotholic until I was 12 and then my Mom decided she didn’t want to be Catholic anymore. (LOOOOONG story.) So what did she do? We went RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET to a Southern Baptist Church. Talk about your confusion. *shudder* I hated it. And when I got married, I stopped going to Church. Fast forward to 3 years ago. I missed Church badly and thought it was time my kids went. *g* I begged Hubs to try a traditional Catholic Church (he was raised Southern Baptist). There was incense and prayer and the Kiri! I loved it and hubs loved it and HE CONVERTED. *g* (That was 3 years ago and we’re still going!)
    Just saying that it will take time and God is where you feel him, where ever that may be. Good luck!

  50. Nancy

    I love my New England Methodist church so I know exactly what you are looking for. We would fit you so well. No talking during prayers or sermons, no arm waving, a little too much applause for me, because I like NONE. We were one of the first to become Reconcling in the country(10 years ago), so we are as hip as it gets. Sorry we are so far away ‘cuz we’d love you have you!

  51. Headless Mom

    I’d come to Our Lady of Perpetual Laughter.

    Since I’ve had my own issues with this lately that sound like it would be just my speed.

    Maybe a webcam service?

  52. Sonia

    Our Methodist Church is exactly in the comfort zone you describe, perhaps a commute is in order? lol
    But then again, we’ve been “phoning it in” so much lately that I think we might be THISCLOSE to getting struck by lightning. We better get our butts back in the pews, however, it should be as predictable as always. Good to know!

  53. Heather

    Hah! Sorry you weren’t quite comfortable there, but glad it provided for some great blog fodder ;) Chickadee’s a pip. I hope you find a good fit soon :)

  54. annette

    I was raised Pentecostal and converted to Catholicism. I am now very devout Catholic. I had to go to my old church Sunday for my Sister’s baby’s dedication (kind of like a Catholic baptism, only without the baptism and not a sacrament…) I always feel like everyone there is judging me for becoming Catholic(Mary worshiping, Pope followers that we are ) The music was upbeat and fun and I feared my children would ENJOY it and want to go there. In the end the pastor called all parents and children up to the altar to lay hands on them for prayer. I was raised with this and wanted to crawl under the pew. As there were only 50 people there and 25 of us were there for the dedication, it was especially odd(do my parents ever wander why that church is never growing???) My husband and I along with our 6 kids were prayed for. My husband charitably pointed out that the prayers are always appreciated even if they pray in a different way…good point. My 12 year old daughter said she felt like she had been to a meeting, not church. Ultimately it created an opportunity for me to tell my kids that we do have a debt to that church. It is in those pews that I learned to love Jesus with all of my heart. If I didn’t love Jesus, I wouldn’t have been able to convert to Catholicism, because I did it out of obedience to Christ, not out of desire. Then once I converted, God opened my heart and mind to the Church. An ex Presbyterian minister convert named Scott Hahn has many books tapes and videos which helped me embrace the faith from an historical and biblical perspective. Then my husband who had been a cradle Catholic with no clue about his faith became a devout Catholic, and overall…we are all living happily ever after. Ultimately our family would not be what it is without a foundation in the Church. I am praying for you, though. It is a difficult journey. BTW, Catholic is Christian. The term for non Catholic Christians is Protestant (from the word protest). I point this out because many think Catholics are not Christians when in fact they were the only Christians until the 1500’s when Luther broke away from the Church. I am sorry for the long post. This has been weighing on my heart since you posted about your church search. It is a subject that I am passionate about.

  55. Missy Sue Hanson

    I just found your blog and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed my visit! I’ll be back to visit often!

  56. jennielynn

    Lord, I love your daughter! I’ve never understood the clapping either. My congregation only does it after songs, but I never know if we’re clapping for the band, or God, or maybe that we’re that much closer to the end. (Heathen!) I don’t know…I grew up in one of those crazy, tongues- talking, hand-laying-on, every-lady-tamborine-playing (they handed them out at the door) churches. The one we’re out now is pretty cool, with a definite emphasis on the arts. We have monthly art shows and a Saturday Coffe House with live music. It feels like home and I absolutely love the preaching, so I can live with abstaining from the clapping. (Heathen!)

  57. jennielynn

    Oh. and AMEN! Preach it, sistah! Testify!

  58. Sue

    You and Chickadee and Headless Mom (Our Lady of Perpetual Laughter? THAT is Mir! Funny stuff!) and all your other awesome commenters have me rolling! And, drums in chuch, OMG. Horrors. (Another Latin-loving Catholic, here.)

  59. Amy

    I was raised Methodist, but am now godless heathen, and I’ve got to say that the only things I miss about growing up in the church are the minister (it was my dad, and he was great) and the potlucks. AND, since I still get to see my dad, it’s mostly the potlucks.

    If only there was a FSM church around – I bet we’d have great pasta-themed potlucks.

  60. mamalang

    I grew up church shopping. You name it, I’ve probably been. I have a whole story to tell, but won’t write a post in your comments. Just suffice it to say that the only reason we aren’t church shopping after our new pastor is that our kids are firmly entrenched in the “extra-curricular” activities at our church.

  61. Scottsdale Girl

    Hmm Sunday Morning Services consist of Bloody Mary’s and Bagels with Lox around here. Come by and see if you like it!

  62. Flea

    OMG!!! When we moved to Tulsa we tried out multiple churches. One of the first we attended was for recovering charismatics, but the atmosphere was still much like the one you’ve described. We snuck out early and the kids were freaking just a little. I feel for ya, Mir. I do.

  63. Emily

    Ummm… Wow! Are you sure that some other non Methodist group wasn’t borrowing the church for their service?? That is SOOO not a Methodist service (traditional or contemporary)!

    But, I really do love Chickadee’s response – she hit the nail on the head!

  64. ramblin' red

    I’m a church of Christ gal…which are plentiful in the south…also tend to be more conservative in the south, probably more so than you’d like (I know it’s more so than I’d like – thank goodness I’m in CO where it is a different culture). I totally identified with your “I’m a Methodist” paragraph. That’s me too…

    LOL at the Great Enthusiasm moniker…hilarious.

    And the Oscar speech? I about wet myself….

  65. Wendy

    Too funny! When I was church shopping at one particular new place, I had to adjust my facial expression when they started passing out the colored tamborines that looked like something my 3 year old would play with. Then, people started laying on the ground facedown right in the aisle. The people passing the plate had to step around a few. Its hard not to laugh until you get to the car!!! I’m sure there are people who love that, but it wasn’t for me.

    Good luck finding the right fit!

  66. AA

    I am Methodist too, for all the reasons you listed. Do we hold the all time record for denomination with the most potlucks?

    I have only been in a couple of Methodist churches like you describe. Well, even then not exactly like that but with some similarities. One was when I was church shopping and one was my own church a few years ago! Sadly we got a new minister who was way out there. It really divided the church into 3 sections. There were those that somehow embraced it, those of us who tried but couldn’t stomach it and left, and the old folks who didn’t like it but had been members for so long they would never leave “their” church and waited it out. I remember saying it might be fine for some, but it was not Methodist and I could not go. He is gone and I ma back when I am in town.

    Once at the boyfriend’s church my son asked why a guy in the choir had his hand up. Boyfriend told him “He wants to ask a question.” I spent the rest of the service trying to keep the kid from saying “Pastor, that man has a question.”

  67. dorothy

    We are shopping for a new church, but my beloved hates “them rock & roll churches” and unfortunately everything around here that doesn’t have a band is way too conservative for us. I think we’re doomed.

  68. carrien

    Uh, I grew up in a church like that. I didn’t discover liturgy or order of service until I was an adult. I quite enjoy liturgy now. I’ve always loved hymns.

    I quite enjoy rock and roll worship too, I confess. It’s what I know, and I like Gospel and clapping.

    The whole everyone laying hands on every one did happen to me as a child, and I did think it was very weird, even then with nothing to compare it to. But I don’t think I need therapy because of it.:)

  69. Mary Ann

    Wow. I’d noticed that you posted about church-going, but I hadn’t recognized that you’re Methodist. I’m a United Methodist pastor in Wyoming– in my first appointment at the third-career age of 47 (46 when I came here). It’s not clear to me whether you’re UM or another sort of Methodist, but my strong impression is that while UM worship tends to be middle-of-the-roadish, it *can* be like anything at all. Anyway, best wishes for the happiest of church-findings!

  70. Cindy

    Wow! What a great post. I did the church shopping here about two years ago and found a great one. I was looking for the EXACT same thing as you. And once I joined the choir — it was like I had always been there (even if I’m the youngest member by 20 years!!).

    I’m Presbyterian (but I’m in Canada — so I don’t know how similar/different American Presbyterianism is to Methodist — up here they’re pretty similar).

    Good luck on your search. I remember how lost I felt when I was looking. I’m sure you’ll find the right fit!!

  71. ryan

    You ought to try an Anglican church. Very traditional, but not fundamentalist. Lots of old organ hymns and pretty churches. You really feel like you went to church when you come out.

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