Becky,I'll tell you how we found our church. It's a long story. . .Some other time I'll tell you about a prophetic dream that helped my husband know which job to take. That's another long story.Anyway, my husband was starting his first year teaching high school and I was starting grad school. Problem was, his school and my school were 75 miles apart. We tried to find an apartment or rent house somewhere in the middle, but this was in August and most places are full that time of year. Plus, the town where we wanted to live was growing and all the condos and apartment complexes had long waiting lists.We found a nice apartment complex that was in our price range, and went in to talk to the manager. We explained our situation and told her that we were desperate for a place to live and were ready to move right away. After she ran a credit check and checked with our employers, she said, "We just had a woman leave without giving notice. We can make it ready for you in three days."Yippee! We had a place to live! The next order of business was to find a church in that area. This was something of a challenge because we came from VERY different backgrounds. I was raised Church of Christ and he was raised Mennonite. We tried three Baptist churches and the Church of Christ, but none seemed quite right for us. We had thought about trying the Assembly of God, because I had personally experienced speaking in tongues and we both liked praise and worship music. I was reluctant, though, because I had NO idea what to expect. From what I had heard, Pentecostal churches were just plain wild.But, none of the other options panned out, so we paid them a visit. First we went to Sunday School, and I was very impressed. The teacher used lots of scripture to make points, but also made practical suggestions. The discussion was interesting and thought-provoking.Then it was time for church. The service followed a format similar to many other churches, but it was just better. The choir really got into the music when they sang--they were smiling and clapping and some lifted their hands. Same thing with the soloists. The man who announced the offering did so in a funny, non-guilt-trip way. He told a joke and then said "God loves a cheerful giver--now you're cheerful, so what better time to give?" He also talked about all the worldwide mission projects the church supports and how it was one of the top mission-giving churches in the state. That was another good sign.Praise and worship was great. It was so liberating to be able to sing and clap and be enthusiastic without everyone staring at you as though you were some kind of nut.I don't recall the sermon topic, but it impressed me that the preacher was really speaking from his heart. I could hear the emotion in his voice, and it wasn't the fake emotion you see on Christian TV. It was a standard three-point sermon with scriptures interspersed, but it was delieverd with a passion I'd never heard before.But here's what impressed me the most: the pastor gave an altar call for people who wanted help or prayer for any reason, and PEOPLE ACTUALLY WENT FORWARD! I had grown up in a church that did that every week, and could count on my fingers the people who actually responded. And here, it seemed the normal thing to do. Amazing!DH and I both knew this was the church for us. There was no comparison between this and the others we had attended. It was orderly, biblically sound, and full of people who were passionate about God. I couldn't wait to go back.After a couple of weeks, I heard someone speak out loud in tongues during a brief lull after the pastor's prayer. I was curious to see what would happen. Then the pastor interpreted the message, and explained the process of tongues and interpretation for those who were unfamiliar with it. I have seen this happen many times since I've gone there. Sometimes people give prophesies, and just say something out loud in plain English. Other times one person speaks in tongues and another person (not always the pastor) interprets it. It is always orderly--nobody interrupts anyone else, and only one person speaks at a time, just as the Bible directs.Not long after DH and I started attending, they started a class for couples married five years or less (I know "fewer" is correct, but it sounds awkward). That was a great blessing, because it helped us make friends in our new town. My friends from this class are the best friends I've ever had. At one point, five of us women were pregnant at the same time. Talk about sympathy!One other, very important thing. Church isn't just what you can get; it's what you can GIVE. DH and I have had many opportunities to serve in our church, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter/rescue mission downtown. I think you learn more from giving and serving than anything else.I could go on and on. As you can probably tell, I love my church. I can't even describe what a blessing it has been. Becky, a great church is worth searching for and waiting for. I hope and pray you'll find one where you can learn, grow, be encouraged, and SERVE. Love ya,Andrea
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