My church history: The Married Years

This post was written between 11 PM on Oct 26th and 2:30 AM on the 27th.

I met my wife that last few weeks I was in college. I don’t even remember the church I went to at the time, but I’m sure it was a church of Christ. We got married at the Kingwood Church of Christ, even though at the time neither of us went there. It was where I’d grown up and near where her parents lived.

When we first got married we lived in Lafayette Indiana while my wife finished her PhD at Purdue and went to Elmwood Church of Christ. We actually had a second wedding at this church. We were very close to the youth minister and his wife there.

After awhile there we moved back to Abilene Texas and my wife started teaching at ACU. The first church we went to was the Hillcrest Church of Christ. We had to go to a C of C because of the her job.

During one summer we went back to Lafayette so she could finish her class work at Purdue. It was during this summer that we first started going to non-CofCs. We went the Lafayette First Assembly of God. We learned a lot of things at this church. The two big ones were with instrumental music you can sing as loud as you want because no one is really going to hear you anyway, and a whole different theology of speaking in tongues.

If you look at this church in terms not of what we learned, but in terms of what we did, the reason we were there was so one of my co-workers could come back to God and church. She had grown up Assembly of God and had abandoned church to do something she knew was wrong. She was a ragamuffin. We came to be friends and we invited her to church that summer and she came, found the forgiveness that is always waiting for us, and was reunited with the God that was pursuing her.

When the summer was over we went back to Abilene and I started studying to be a church planter. We ended up at a tiny, tiny little church of Christ on the south side of town. The Oakridge church of Christ was the church were our first child was born. I learned a lot about being a new parent when I was there. And a lot about being in a very small church.

While I was studying to be a church planters a group of people from ACU decided to start a new kind of church based on the models we were studying. One of its purposes was to be a training ground for those of us in the domestic missions program. Eventually we managed to get ourselves invited to be a part of this church. It was called the Abilene Mission Church.

I won’t go into detail, but this period of time was filled with pain. We had more interpersonal strife while being a part of this church than any other church. We also learned a lot about technically how church should be done. Our second child was born here amid much drama. We had some very dear friends in this period. No church of Christ we’ve ever gone to since was more focused on reaching the lost.

Unfortunately that church imploded after we left and isn’t around any more.

I never finished the Domestic Mission degree, but I got a degree in Computer Science and decided to pursue that career. We moved to Durham North Carolina and basically left the churches of Christ.

AMC was a cell church and I had studied cell churches and really wanted to be part of one. But I was burned out on being part of small churches and cell churches, which end up taking a huge amount of time and effort on the part of the leaders, which we were.

When we first got to Durham we looked for a cell church and found one called Dayspring Fellowship. We visited the church on a Sunday – they were meeting a middle school – and a small group. But we didn’t go there, because we were burned out and didn’t want to have to do the work of being in a small church.

So we ended up going to the Triangle Christian Fellowship (this may be them, but they weren’t a Vineyard at the time). We went there for a year. Good worship service, but at the end of a year we knew no one at that church. And they failed the heart for the lost test. During this time I had a co-worker who was looking to come back to God. She’d been a part of the Boston Church of Christ movement and had left it. Another Ragamuffin willing to come back if she could find the right body. We invited her to church and went around and asked people please make sure they talked to her. No one did. So we went looking for another church.

And we went back to Dayspring. We’d spent a year rejuvenating and were less afraid of a small church. But what really hooked us was the compassion of the members. The morning we visited a couple who were to become our good good friends was talking to us and we mentioned we hadn’t been able to find a baby sitter, and had therefore not been out on our own in over a year. They immediately offered to watch our boys. We took them up on it and never even visited another church.

I learned a lot about cell church at Dayspring. But it really wasn’t a working cell church. I think the big thing I came out with was that you have to have people who can really do outreach in order to actually grow and divide cells and that isn’t easy to find.

I took a job in Austin and we decided to go back to the Church of Christ. We went to Westover Hills church of Christ. We went there over a year and at the end of that time I knew no one. I was ready to find another church. The Mrs was not, but I was pig headed and did it anyway. I went back to visit ACU and AMC and the people there told me that all the people who move to Austin from AMC go to Hope Chapel. It turns out there was really only one couple and they had moved on since then, but I went to Hope anyway. This was God’s weird way of working.

I loved Hope Chapel. It was the best church we ever went to. We learned how to worship there. How to dance and praise. They had a deep love for the lost and I did more outreach to coworkers there than anywhere. Learned a lot about prayer and was introduced to Prayerwalking.

That sure seems a very short paragraph for my favorite church.

Sitting here writing this I wonder again as I have a number of times, why I left and moved to Kingwood. I was very sure at the time it was God’s work. I got the idea into my head I wanted to do it and an amazing opportunity to make the move came.

Kingwood turned out to be an ecclesiastical wasteland. There was never any serious thought to attending my old home church. Just too much baggage and bad feelings. We visited a number of churches over the years, three that we really attended. Funny thing is I can’t really remember what order we went to them.

One was the Kingwood Vineyard church. It was a small church and we never really got plugged in. Learned a new way of worship. I like to say among the praise oriented churches, when worship is over you either feel like you just did an aerobic workout, or you are so relaxed you could go to sleep. The vineyard is the latter. But you really don’t feel sleepy, like in a traditional worship service, just relaxed.

After a while going there we didn’t know anyone and wanted a big church where we didn’t have to do anything. And really I didn’t want to go to church at all. It felt like a waste of time. I wasn’t getting anything out of it (whatever that means).

If you want big and well organized go Baptist. These people have made big and organized an art form. We visited Woodridge Baptist filled out the visitor card and had someone come visit us within 24 hours bringing bread. As a student of church growth I knew that if you do this to visitors over half will start coming to your church. But this is the first church that ever did it. We went here for awhile, I don’t remember how long. But I was in a very dry place and the only reason I went on Sunday morning was there were a lot of good looking women to look at. How’s that for spiritual.

I guess at some point I decided we should go to a church for spiritual reasons. Or maybe it was just time to change again. Anyway we moved to the Family Life Church. (Which didn’t have a web site then and doesn’t have one now.) FLC had the kind of worship service we were more used to. And we got somewhat evolved. But we got real tired of the mini-sermon on money every Sunday.

We visited Lakewood Church and the Mrs and I really liked the worship service. I like the preaching too, which was a first. But the kids hated it. We went to pick them up after service and one was in tears. Now kids get upset about stuff and as a parent you know just because your kid is crying doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. But when you leave your kid in a class at church and he is crying you expect to find an adult with them trying to comfort them. Wasn’t happening at Lakewood. So Lakewood was out.

During my current spiritual reawakening I realized the Mrs and I could go to Lakewood on Saturday night for the fun of it. We could get our praise fix. The boys could go and stay with us, or we could get a babysitter and have a date.

Which brings us to our current church. So there is no good church in Kingwood. Not going to find a church by looking for one you connect with spiritually, so pick one where you’ve got friends. My best friend from high school and college goes to Kingwood Church of Christ. So we went there. The boys love it because they love his kids, and the Mrs and I can get along because we under stand the culture and the boys are happy.

The church is in the middle of elder selection. If you aren’t church of Christ this means nothing to you. If you are, then you know its painful. Part of the process was to put all the prospective elders up there and ask them questions. The questions were asked by the ministers and I was ready to leave pretty quick. At one point I realized the reason was because I had a burning desire in my heart that none of the questions or answers were addressing. I was saying “Please, please, please, give me a reason to want to come to this church on Sunday morning.”

I know this was actually the Spirit’s move. I know this because I wanted to cry when I heard it, and that’s a sure sign of the presence of Holy Spirit to me. And my whole outlook on life has changed since Sunday.

I think God took that plea and accepted that is was really to him and not the new elders. And he is trying to give me and answer.

Now hopefully he’ll let me go back to sleep.

Physical sleep, not spiritual.

Just did a count. 13 churches we actually attended, not counting the ones we just visited.

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