Sunday, February 14, 2010

Church

*Edited to say: They just came by and visited us. This is another good checkmark off my things that make a church a "good church." AND, the guy who visited is married to a woman who works for an international adoption agency!

We've made a very hard decision. We're trying new churches. If you've read this blog for a while you know how much we love our current church at All Nations Fellowship. It's a unique church and one that has unique advantages to our family. It is truly a church of "all nations." I'm not sure if white people are the minority, but I would guess that it's pretty close. We have people who are from all over the world, including W. Africa and SE Asia. Our family blends in, rather than sticking out. There are all sorts of role models for our children. The church is focused on missions--actually probably uses as much money for missions as they do for running the church (if not more). There are other internationally adopted children--even other HIV+ children. The church fits us like a glove in so many ways. There is just one big problem.

At All Nations, our kids and the children of one other family ARE the children's group. This wouldn't be a big deal if the kids went to a school filled with other kids. But they don't. They homeschool. And I admit it--I am not the sort of homeschooling mom that is involved in a lot (or anything at this point) outside of our house. No homeschooling groups. No homeschool PE at the rec center. No homeschool choir. I work. There isn't a lot of time for outside-the-house extras.

A few things happened that made Eric and I really sad. First, we found out that Taevy was telling her one good friend about other friends who were actually made up. She made up friends to make it look like she had more than one. Ouch. Then poor Sammy. He really doesn't have any guy friends his age, except for his cousin, that he doesn't see much. He will meet a kid one time and then talk about that kid all the time, calling him his "friend" when in fact they only met once. Double ouch. So you can see how it became abundantly clear that we needed to provide our children with more opportunities for peer friendship.** It was a hard decision, but we've decided to look at other churches that have established children's programs.

Today we went to Southern Hills Baptist. And it was good. It's a church of probably 300-400 in attendance, with everything already established. They have a thriving children's ministry. They even have Upwards Sports (which our family is a big fan of). The church is only a mile from our house. Everybody was very welcoming, but not overly "in our face" asking questions about our family (we sort of stand out). In fact, nobody asked us where our kids were from, or if we adopted them. We see that as a plus--that they just accepted us as a family. Period. The music was contemporary until the end when they closed with the very traditional "I Surrender All" at the invitation and "How Great Thou Art" for the close of worship. As a girl who grew up S. Baptist those two songs are like comfort food for me. =-) Next week we'll do week 2 of our 2-week visitation ritual. First week is worship only. If the church is good as far as worship goes, then we try Sunday School.

The hard part is what we are sacrificing if we leave All Nations. Diversity. This church today had all of 4 black people. They have a separate Hispanic church, so no Hispanic people either. Like most of Tulsa, no Asian people. There is no perfect church. We're going to have to sacrifice something no matter where we go. The question for us is whether to sacrifice diversity or children's programs. Time will tell. We aren't SURE we're being called away from All Nations.

One bright spot is that this church has an ongoing mission with Ghana! Seriously--we didn't even know! Every summer the youth take a mission trip to Ghana, and this year for the first year, the general church is taking a mission trip to Ghana as well! In mid-March the pastor they work with in Ghana is actually coming to preach! I told Eric that once they find out we have two kids from Ghana we will have PLENTY extra attention. ;-)

Anita
**I am of the opinion that children don't need a lot of same age peer relationships. We have four kids who are all friends that are together all the time. They have cousins that they see regularly. So they have "friends." I actually think it's unnatural to put a group of 30 same-age kids in a classroom, rather than having multi-age classrooms. Multi-age is how it was done throughout most of history. While I believe all of this, I do want my kids to have SOME opportunity to have friends of their same age/gender. A few good same age/gender friends is nice to have. =-)

3 comments:

Laurel 7:41 PM  

A very tough decision, indeed. But, I know that you will make it will the wisdom and discernment that comes from the Lord.

Both churches sound wonderful, each in its own way. God will show you where you need to be at this time in your life.

Our church doesn't have any teens (for our teens), and only 3 elementary school kids (along with our 4 elem. school kids).

But ... we can't change churches, since my husband is the pastor. :) We are praying that the Lord would show us ways to meet other families with young children and teens, so that we can invite them to church.

:) :) :)

Susan 9:14 PM  

How about staying with your church and having the older children attend AWANA at another church?

Susan

Dani Neumann 12:58 PM  

It's so hard switching churches- I remember how much it affected me as a child. I've been at churches like both you described, with small groups and larger groups. I found the small groups to be just as meaningful to myself as the large, since I only bonded with a few friends at the larger church..

It does sound though like Samren and Taevy want to meet more potential friends. If you like this new church, maybe you can do a rotation and go 3 weeks to the Baptist church and one week a month to the old church?? This way you still keep ties.

After I switched churches my few visits back to the old one were very cherished, and even after moving out of state I can go back there a few times a year and be greeted warmly. It was great to be part of two congregations!