While most of you are done thinking about Christmas shopping, exchanging and all that mess, I'm just getting started with my shopping. Not for Christmas, but for church. It's been a while, 7 years to be exact, since my last church shopping experience. So, this past Sunday my family loaded up the minivan and headed out to try on our first church.
My analytical, research oriented brain, which operates very different than my wife's, initially created a stir, but once we (okay I) came to the agreement that this didn't have to be a double blind study to get a completely non-biased response on which church will fit our family best, things got a little easier.
We went to New Life where Ted Haggard is the pastor.
I initially noticed how large the parking lots are, but how easy they were to navigate in. The people were a little stiff as we entered. More what I call "old school" church. A forced smile always makes me feel welcome. The children's department was very, let me emphasize VERY impressive. Computer check in, bar code print outs with name and ID number on them. A personal escort to show us where to take our kids. Granted she was maybe 11 years old, but she was exceptional, even for 11. Oh yeah, the gift bags with stickers and stuff for my boys didn't hurt either. Both boys loved church and wanted to go back right away to play in the air jumpers / moon walks / what ever you call those things kids jump in.
The adult service, while held in a huge auditorium didn't feel huge. Lots of lighting effects, great music and cool logos and slogans for small groups projected on the walls all around the room emphasized the one on one connection. Later we learned that they were featuring their small groups this Sunday. All 1,000 plus of them. That's right 1,000 small groups. Want to study the bible, pick from just about any of them, learn to play guitar and worship, hiking, mountain climbing, sailing, hula dancing and ball room dancing. Yes, I said it - hula dancing. They even demonstrated the hula dancing in the foyer after service.
The message was good, although I spent more time analyzing every detail of what everyone else was doing than I did listening. The researcher in me I guess. We'll keep it on our potential list as we keep trying more churches. So far our list is made up of about 6 churches total to try.
I am getting the sense that this is going to be a serious project. Any suggestions on what worked / didn't work for you when you shopped for church last time? Obviously pray, but beyond praying what techniques, signs, signals, etc did you use or look for?