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Sabrina S

Church distance

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Here is a random question my husband and I have been discussing (we don't have an answer so there isn't a right or wrong just wondering other people's opinions):

We pass probably a minimum of 10 churches on our way to our church on Sunday morning. We drive about 15 miles to church which takes 20-30 minutes depending on traffic but there are several that would probably be just fine doctrinally much closer to us. It occurred to me this is relatively normal in American churches today. We have done it before. Why do we do this? Why don't we go to the church closest to us (assuming they are preaching the Word and our beliefs line up with their doctrine)? Would it be better if we all went to church close to home and built a community and "did life" with those who live physically near us? My church has people who come in from all sides of town, some as far as us or farther in the opposite direction, what this means is going to church activities can be difficult due to time and distance that might have to be added in, and building relationships is difficult because of time and distance (and everyone is already so busy adding an hour or more of travel time to meet with people rarely happens). If we all went to church within 5 miles we would build relationships with neighbors...and we would be close for other activities or unexpected needs (meals, help with illnesses or elderly, etc etc). We could better serve the church and each other and in turn be better served. So thoughts? It seems like a better way to steward all resources including "people resources" of time, relationships, and service.....

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Thinking about my in laws and other relatives on both sides. They went to the local Catholic church in their neighborhood, went to the Catholic School, even had their own Catholic hospital. Several blocks away it was the Presbyterian & the Baptist and the situation was the same. Families did not move around as much. Most kids lived in the same neighborhood until they either went to college or got married. Many of them may end up in the same neighborhood. I agree it was community back then but, I'm sure they had many of the same problems the churches do today.

Now a days you get upset you can leave and go somewhere else. You don't like the message that is being taught or the youth group or the worship team. It's sad but, the world is so different than when my parents grew up. It would make life easier, easier on the car and gas bill. I don't even know our neighbors and I'm the one saying "hi" and try to get into a conversation. Everyone is just too busy or don't want to interact with neighbors.

We drive 45 minutes to our congregation and we have people who drive almost 2 hours away. I'm in a Messianic Synagogue of Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus and there are only two congregations here in our area. So our options are limited. Our small town has every option except ours and a Catholic Church that is in the next small town.

Sigh... I hear ya!

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Your situation is a bit different since it is such a specific type of church. We have lots of choices....too many I think. But I think you hit on all the major issues. I would love to go to a church where it was close to everyone and everyone was close to each other but I don't know if that even exists anymore.

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We live right next door to a church, and there is another directly in front of us one street over.   We've lived here for 10 years and have never gone to either church (and have never been invited to either).    We drive to the other side of town to attend church.   I see what you're saying as far as the community aspect, then again I think sometimes it's just that the dynamics don't work.  Maybe it's an older congregation that doesn't offer anything for a young family with small children; or reversed it's a young/hip church that is just too loud and boisterous for an older couple.

We all need a church that's a good fit in that it helps us grow as Christians, and gives us opportunity to serve.   It would be nice to be able to walk to and from church and have that sense of local connection.  I think we let denominational titles be divisive instead of looking at we are all the body of Christ.

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I'll start a bit of a poll here, If there was no church except a church of this (blank) denomination in your city, would you go to it?

Lutheran

Catholic

Presbyterian

Episcopalian

P.S. I chose somewhat unpopular denominations for a reason.

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There is definitely something to be said for fitting in and having a good dynamic in your church but I would argue that a church that is wholly or predominately older OR younger is missing a significant aspect of growth and community for everyone....both are needed, but that is sort of a different issue and I see what you are saying. On the other hand if you haven't visited how would you know? (I'm not throwing stones at all just trying to pinpoint how our culture has become on where we go farther than we have to outside of our immediate community to find something "just right.") The church we currently go to-across town- we chose because they were the only ones with an AWANA program....ironically we are now thinking of discontinuing awana for a variety of reasons. We didn't have to go to church there to be part of that program it just seemed like a logical choice. I know of at least two closer churches that would probably be just fine for us. 

As for if I would attend one of those churches....well I grew up Lutheran, I don't know all of the specifics of each of their doctrines but I do know that at least three of those choices have significant doctrinal differences from what I believe so I honestly don't know. When you say the only one in our city how far is the next one? If it were the only one within driving distance perhaps I would but I would also feel a bit fake going to one that practices things I specifically don't believe in. On the other hand while we were stationed in Germany we attended the chapel on base. Our service was just the "protestant" service and took the flavor of whatever chaplain was leading service that week. When we first started attending the chaplain was Episcopalian, then we had a Baptist, I'm not sure the background of our last chaplain....those were just the main guys there were others who rotated in and out at other times and had other "flavors" of worship and yes we went very regularly. 

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Very interesting. So you have had a conglameration of church experience in your life. I grew up non-denominational, i.e. Baptist with a cool website. But I plan on joining the Anglican Church soon.

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"Baptist with a cool website" - That is hilarious!! (and true in so many cases lol). Interesting that you are joining the Anglican church, those aren't terribly common in the U.S. (I'm assuming you are in the US but perhaps I'm wrong there?). Do you mind if I ask what drew you to that particular denomination? (I'm just curious I don't really know much about Anglican). 

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I used to attend a Methodist church a few miles from home.  I went until after the birth of our second son.  I was the youngest person in the church (and I had the boys in my late thirties!).  To nurse, I had to sit on a narrow bench in the vestibule, literally outside the door of the "toilet room."  That's all that was in there.  A toilet.  In the winter, it was too drafty to leave the door ajar to hear the sermon.  While I liked it, the sermons didn't really stretch me and it was obviously not for a young family.  There was no Sunday school for any age.

There was a sister church in town, served by the same pastor, but it was very early and no one ever spoke to me when I attended that one. 

There was a big Assemblies of God church with a great VBS, but my autistic son had some trouble dealing with all the kids.  Too loud, too busy,etc. and I attended VBS to help him through it.  One day, an "elder" pulled me aside for a private conversation, threatening to call CPS on me and telling me that my son's pediatric behaviorist wasn't  trained or licensed to treat autistic children and wasn't really a doctor (he was both).  She knew because her daughter in law told her.  The daughter in law she apparently went to and told about me, because she is a gossip.  So, scratch another church off the list. (long story short)

Went to another, smaller AoG church and ran into a similar problem as the first Methodist church.  My kids were often the only children there, so I felt terrible that someone had to miss the service to teach my kids Sunday school.

Found a very conservative Baptist church with Awana.  Love it.  Love the people who all love on my kids well.  The road between our town and their town is terrible in the winter on weekends  I've literally slid the 1/2 mile down the hill in first gear with new snow tires.  LOL  Not a fan of that.  That's rural Vermont for you!  BUT, doctrinally, we aren't 100% in agreement.  I wouldn't ever be able to join that church.

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal. 

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal. 

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal. 

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal

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All of those seem like good reasons to keep looking for a church. Glad you found somewhere you love and fit well but obviously it would be better if you were doctrinally aligned. We do love the church we are attending now, it is large but not too large, vibrant, mixed ages, mixed ethnicities. It has a very active international ministry which my husband and I enjoy working with. It has awana, although I haven't seen the fruit in my children from awana here that I've seen in other places so I'm torn on that one. We agree with the doctrine, love the pastors, the sermons are wonderful and challenging and full of Biblical truth and wisdom.

The problem.....

It takes 20+ min to get there on Sunday (longer during the week because there is more traffic). On Sunday they have service, then either small groups or evening worship (alternating) and in between the youth group meets. My oldest would love to be in the youth group but we just can't do church until 11 or noon, come home for lunch, drive BACK into town to drop her off at 3, come back home, go back to pick her up at 5 then do small group somewhere in between or go to the evening service. That is ALL DAY SUNDAY. As it is my husband works 12+ hours a day mon-fri, Saturday is almost always spent doing farm chores or home improvements. Sunday is supposed to be rest and family time and is when he gets "reset" for the week (he washes and folds his uniforms to leave at work, preps breakfast and lunch foods for the week etc). We do take the kids in for AWANA on Wed nights but as I've said before and in other threads I'm struggling with that right now for a variety of reasons. My kids aren't coming home telling me what they learned about Jesus like they used to and they aren't motivated to learn verses at all. Whereas before they were begging to learn verses now they are resisting it and all I hear about is playing with friends and getting candy. IF they do a verse it is just for candy and awana bucks for the store....anyway that is it's own long thing. I love awana but it doesn't seem to be bearing fruit right now and it messes up bedtime for my littles. 

I can't fit any other Bible studies or anything into my schedule right now. Especially when adding in the hour plus of drive time. Now down the road, maybe 5 minutes away is a church of the same denomination with, I'm assuming, the same doctrine. I don't know their age spread or how their sermons are. I do know the pastor and he is a sweet man. This church has a gym and hosts many of our homeschool organizations activities. They also have a vibrant outreach ministry. I'm not saying we would do all day activities on Sunday even there but being closer would certainly make it easier to be involved in more. Since it is a smaller church in a smaller town I'm assuming pretty much all members live in the immediate area. But we hesitate to move the kids. Our move here a year and a half ago was really hard on them and they have established friends at our current church. We are also involved in a couple things it would be harder to extract from. 

Anyway, just something we are struggling with but it seems to me there is some logic in going to a church closer if all else is relatively equal

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Oh my gosh ya'll.....my computer kept "not posting" the above reply....and I kept re-trying, but apparently, it really posted every time and I can't find a way to delete so sorry!!!! 

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The Anglican Church of North America is technically a split off of the Episcopalian Church. When the Episcopalians started doing some screwy things like ordaining women, and doing gay marriages. The Anglican Church in Africa, (about 8 million people) suspended them from communion, and many Episcopalians kind of started their own denomination, because the Archbishop of Canterbury didn't recognize them as bonafide Anglicans. However, the African Church completely recognizes the ACNA as Anglicans. I actually had the privilege of meeting the arch deacon of Uganda at my local ACNA church. What drew me to it was that my brothers' friends all started getting into it, I went to several services and was hooked. The first time I took Eucharist (communion) I cried. To put it in context, I never cry, period. The way it was done, the simplicity, the beauty. Even the fact that they use wine with water ( to represent the blood mixed with water that came out of Christ's body) made it so much more potent, I was struck with the realization of what I had just done. I had partook of a symbolic meal representing Christ. So anyway, tirade's over.

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Very interesting. Thank you for sharing that. I have several friends in Uganda I wonder what denomination their church is. You seem to be very educated on various denominations and traditions within the Christian church. I would love to learn more about all of that.

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When we first moved here, we found a Baptist church that had a great Awana program as well.  We attended there the whole time the kids were in Awana, although we weren't Baptist, but we enjoyed it and thrived.  Once the kids aged out of Awana (this church only went through 6th grade TNT), and there was no youth we migrated to a where we are now and it's a great fit for us all around.   I guess different seasons of life come into play.

One thing I've realized in recent years is how little I know about what the differences are in the varying denominations.

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I personally know the theological differences between denominations, but would really wish to know what they are like in practice. I haven't been to to many different churches.

 

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AWANA is why we chose our current church too. It is a wonderful program but this year I've found myself less impressed with it....I can't even pinpoint why, I think a combination of things and it has just been an off year for me. 

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Our girls spent several years in Awana, even though we are not Baptist, simply because a friend from our local homeschooling group invited us. It was a really good program for our girls, and they enjoyed it, but we did not change churches because of it.

We have been to several various denominational church in the past. But we almost always chose something simpler because we are just Christ-Followers, not wanting to join a denominational church or get involved in doctrinal debates instead of worshipping God and serving alongside other believers. We have driven anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes to church over these 24 years of marriage. Right now the church we are attending is about 35 minutes away. There are dozens of churches we pass between here and there, but that is where God has led us, and we find the other believers at our church genuine and loving. Too many of the more local to us churches have huge theological issues that we simply could not stomach. That is sad. I would be awesome if there was a local church that simply preached the word of God consistently. I would love to live closer to the community of believers we worship and serve with, but this is one of those things where God has called us to sacrifice our time in obedience, and I really love the ladies in the church, something I really need as a mom who will soon graduate her youngest and could use some life-long friends outside of homeschooling. :)

In answer to the question/ poll from March 7th...I think I could find God while attending any of those denominational churches if that was my only option. I've had friends from all of those churches during my adult life, and while we did not agree on everything, the evidence of their love for Jesus was there. I'm not sure of my husband could say the same thing, as he really struggles with attending somewhere when he disagrees with their doctrine. Thankfully, God has given us this church to attend where we can all feel a part of His body.

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