August 2, 2008

I Like to Wear Jeans

You may remember me talking about the awesome VBS experience my kids had a couple of weeks ago. We decided to visit on a Sunday and were pleasantly surprised with what we found. The church is not too terribly big--I like that. It's non-denominational. I can live with that. The kids have made new friends, and it is outstanding!

One of the things that has really turned me off to the local S. Baptist churches and kind of irked me at the same time is that they are so very crowded. No one knows one another. Maybe I am spoiled because I came from a wonderful church family where everyone knew each other and on top of that, they knew my children. Not in the 'remember their names' sort of way, but in the way that they knew things about them. They knew Milan would talk their ears off and boss the other little girls around. They knew how to handle Xander. They knew that Jagger would be the first one at the food and that he needed an extra push to behave. They knew Harley worked hard at learning his verses and even dubbed him 'Pastor Harley' for a time.

The hardest issue that I have run into though has been the fashion parades that visit these churches. I think of it as the 'hair and purse' parade. For the life of me I will never understand wearing high heels in 6 inches of snow or revealing outfits to church.

I must sound like such a prude.

I don't envy them their clothing or their jewelry or their Coach purses. Truth be told, I have never been like that. The picture to the right above my profile is the most dressed up I have been in the last several years. (Special occasion.)

I watched quietly as these power women struck up their conversations about their latest shopping excursions, carried in the muffins they had prepared in Macy's bags, and thought nothing of the girl sitting in the corner in jeans. It was my first day.

My children were released from their Sunday school classes looking pretty glum. I asked what the problem was. They had been in classes that sat 30 or more children per grade level and felt just as lonely as I did. We did not return.

I knew that I would be looking for a place that focused on the real purpose of attending. A place we could call home, and people we could call family. A place where people didn't just dump their children into a classroom, but where parents were genuinely interested in what they were learning. A place where people knew the children. A place where children were being led to be leaders because they had leaders to follow.

I wore my jeans to the service. I cannot even remember if I wore makeup, so I probably didn't. I wanted to know that people would accept me for me. That they would accept my children and they would be welcomed with a genuine heart. God answered our prayer.

When was the last time you had a visitor that did not quite fit the mold? Did they have tattoos? I do. Did they wear jeans? I do. Would you accept us and welcome us if we were to visit you? Would you invite us to join your family?

Sometimes the welcome is not presented...and you lose the opportunity to be the type of person you are called to be. Sometimes those people walk away and forget why they tried to seek out community in the first place. Sometimes this hardens their heart towards "Christians".

However, the person who steps up first to shake a hand or say hello is usually the person they will never forget.

Who will you be?


naturalmom said...

I know exactly the kind of church you are talking about -- both kinds actually, but I mean the small, intimate kind. I grew up in a church like that and have found the same kind of family in my Quaker Meeting. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have my children growing up in such a community. They are my "village".

I'm glad you've found a place that may be just what you are looking for. My sister really loved her non-denominational church there and misses it.


Nikowa Lee {Quirky Mom} said...

I am in the EXACT same situation, and it seems SO hard here in GA, where there are ALOT of Southern Baptist churches! If it's small, it is usually predominately an "elderly" church with no children's activities/youth groups. But the mega churches look at you weird when you don't come in with Dooney & Bourke (purse), high heels, and look like you just stepped out of the salon with great hair, nails & make-up....

And lets not even start about the don't know how many "evil" looks I've received!

Jennifer said...

I grew up in a non-denominational church and have actually switched to a Methodist church, with non-denominational leanings - meaning they aren't hung up on traditions and religion. We are there to worship Jesus, and that's the most important thing to us! We wear jeans to almost every service, and though our church is large (they have 4 services each Sunday morning), we've made many friends. Our kids LOVE the children's church services that take place in conjunction with the 'grown-up' services, and the leaders know us - by name! Finding a church where you feel comfortable is SO important - and hard! I feel very blessed to have found our home church :)

My name is Kristie said...

Let me tell you that my church would accept you with jeans, tattoos, piercings,homeless,or drunk.

I think many forget who Jesus hung out with. It wasn't the cleaned up Pharisees.

Our neighbor (who is not a christian, but searching) told my husband that she went to church with her mom because her mom begged her to. She didn't have anything to wear but what she always wore. So she wore her jeans and black tank top which revealed her tattoos. She was asked to leave by the elders!!!

We have been trying to convince her for the last couple of months that she would not be asked to leave or change the way she dresses for that matter. We even told her that if they wouldn't let her stay,we would leave with her.

I don't want to belong to a christian club. I want to belong to the kingdom of God. And I believe it is filled with all kinds of people.


Melissa said...

Great insight. I grew up in a small town and attended a Southern Baptist church. Everyone knew everyone...but it was a small town.

When I lived in Arkansas the mega churches there had the fashion parade that you mentioned.

Kgraham said...

You know, it doesn't even matter the "flavor" of the church, or the denomination it's under. There are people that will do this in every church. I used to get so irritated. Now I've just come to the place where I've decided that I won't be that person, and that's it. Hopefully it'll rub off...
Love you blog, by the way :)

E said...

And we moved to a little village with one church where we felt lonely and isolated. We are old Unitarians and we have to go almost an hour to find a UU church. So often we go somewhere else or we don't go at all. But I miss my community. I am glad you have found yours...

Jennifer said...

Yep, I've got a tattoo. Two of them, actually, though neither one is very visible and "people" (some people, ha) are surprised ro discover I have them. (Not sure why...? Ha!)

Anyway. Yes, yes, and yes. Our church is small enough that people not only know my kids' names but their nicknames and their birthdays and when they have a new dress or shirt on. It's small enough that we all know each other's beliefs on issues and where we differ at times. AND we not only know when we have someone new visiting, but we *gasp* actually speak to them. LOL.

We don't have all of the things that bigger churches have, but we are, truly, a family. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I hope you've found that now, too.

rural momma said...

I can totally relate to this post!! :0) I love, love, love,...... our church. It is not the dress up kind of church that cares about the outward appearance, but instead it cares about the inward.

The people really know me and my children and when new folks come in, they are soon known too. :0) I know not all churches are like that and it really is to bad. Jesus commanded us to love one another and that is sometimes hard to do when we are stuck in a clique.

BTW-- I love your blog !! :0)

Chris Worthy said...

That's one of the things we love about our church (which is actually a really large Southern Baptist church -- but it's atypical ;)), we wear shorts and flip-flops! You might see some people dressed up, but most of us come as we are. We have all ages, backgrounds, etc. and because we are united in a common purpose, the superficial stuff just falls away.
We have noted that looking at our diverse congregation must be a glimpse of what Heaven will look like. Very cool!

BD said...

This is the exact reason I haven't been to church in over 20 years. My little girl--she's 9--has never been to church, and if I have my way, she never will, at least around here. We live in a small community now, and even here, church is only a gossip center and fashion parade--almost as bad as the bigger cities. It wasn't like this at all when I was growing up. I loved going to church. Now you won't catch me near one. I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I don't need a church to worship. If a "Christian" cannot accept me for what I am, then so be it. I've actually been told we'll go to Hell for not going to church. Nice, huh? Somehow I don't think Jesus would appreciate that comment.

Angela DeRossett said...

Oh ((BD))...I couldn't imagine telling someone that. I think a lot of people will be shocked to learn that God didn't make religions when their time comes.