***I know religion can be a touchy topic, but I want to share my story in case other families seeking out a church body can learn from my experiences.***
A few months ago, shortly after my husband and moved to Peachtree City from Charlotte, NC, we were in search of a new church. Both my husband and I were raised in the church, though different denominations, and while our attendance was spotty at best during our college and dating years, we had eventually reconnected with the church and were sad to leave our Charlotte church’s congregation. Our search started with my husband’s childhood church, which we had attended previously on family visits, though those visits were mostly pre-Goober.
Just like in our college days, having an infant had decreased our church attendance. We finally had a morning where it seemed everything was working out to attend. We arrived a few minutes after the start of services, but felt pretty accomplished because for once, at least we had made it all the way there (a few times previously we got halfway before having to turn around due to an infant’s other plans). We found a spot in the back for easy escape should our son get fussy and settled in to worship.
As we listened attentively to the sermon however, we began to feel a bit uncomfortable. The pastor preached about how disruptive lateness is to the service and suddenly our pleasure as simply being able to finally attend was demolished. To further salt the wound, the pastor follows up his comment with a dig equating a restless baby with a cell phone ringing or a lozenge wrapper crackling as distracting the congregation from the proper and solemn attitude of worship. Every sound and movement our son made suddenly felt as loud as thunder and we felt embarrassed by even the happiest giggle, until we felt that all we could do was leave, even with the sermon only partially completed.
My husband and I were both raised in families who valued worshipping together at young ages and we wish to raise our son the same way. Nurseries are great and serve their own purpose, in fact our son now regularly stays in one during the service, but new families visiting the church don’t always know where those facilities are located or feel comfortable leaving their children with strangers in a strange church. I honestly don’t think those families should have to feel as unwelcome and embarrassed as my husband and I did that day. The pastor did apologize after my father-in-law (a current member of the congregation) brought our distress to his attention, but our experience there was not one we wished to repeat.
This story does however have a happy ending. Despite being a bit shaken by our reception at that church and my husband having a mild panic attack when we were about to enter another local church, we eventually ended up at our current church on Christmas Eve and every Sunday we have attended since has affirmed my belief I believe that it is the church God intended us to find. Children are very welcome there with a Children’s Moment even included in the service.
I hope that other parents in search of a new congregation are not made to feel as we were at the first church but are welcomed with open arms as we were at the third. If however, you do encounter a similar or possible worse church experience, keep searching! Don’t let it dissuade you from attending at all. I wish to truly thank the pastor for his sermon. I believe he was driven to speak those words to prevent us from becoming too comfortable with a church that might have been part of my husband’s childhood, but wasn’t truly the best fit for our family.by