Church is a funny place. It’s a different mix of people ranging from stiff necked-suit-and-tie denominations to pew-jumping-grandmas to tattooed-ex-cons and pleated skirted mountain hippies, bikers, cowboys and yuppies. But in spite of our differences, all of us seem to find righteousness in the same loving God through our worship.
Being the son of a pastor, I was forced to attend a lot of church services in my lifetime. As I grew to adulthood and was no longer forced to attend, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the people and have continued to attend when I can. Travel in the winter months allows me to visit churches of every flavor and persuasion and while all are in different locations, they all are willing to share their experience and their churches with a stranger.
Of course since churches are made up of people, there are funny things that occur there almost weekly. These don't take away from the experience but only seen to emphasize that God, too, must have a sense of humor.
Back in my childhood church, windows were often open during services. We sweated in the summer and froze in the winters but no one complained.
We also found humor and fun in good Christian fellowship. I remember one of the pastors in the next town over from us, whom everyone referred to as “Windy” due to his lengthy prayers, almost drowned the local drunk while the pastor besought God’s mercy for the man while holding him under water. If not for a watchful deacon, a funeral would have been the next week’s event.
One member of our congregation who was very devout would often share revelations from his personal conversations with God. During one service, we were expecting that this congregant’s Uncle Bill would be making an announcement but Uncle Bill was nowhere to be found. The congregant stood up during service and announced that the Lord told him that his Uncle Bill would not be attending tonight’s service. Glancing out the window and seeing Bill drive up he quickly added, “The Lord just told me he changed his mind.”
Churches nowadays are very different from those I grew up in. In my travels, a local friend suggested that I would enjoy going to church on a beach in Florida. I thought to myself, now this is my kind of people. Shorts and Hawaii print shirts were the norm plus there was plenty of coffee and crumb cake to eat during the service. The music was contemporary with a band and praise team and the message from a pastor in jeans and a sport shirt was excellent. I was greeted publicly from the pulpit and mention made in the sermon about my Colorado ties. They looked like slackers but obviously were computer savvy.
Another church I attended relied on old-fashion open arms wide and hug a stranger to heaven philosophy. Earlier in the week someone had suggested I would enjoy a contemporary church. Of course, being a man, I got the wrong address and come that Sunday morning found myself in the middle of an all-black church of energetic people intent on making sure I sought timely salvation.
No matter the geography or climate, there is one thing all churches have in common. A new single man in church is seen as not only a new convert, but also we are the answer to the prayers of all the single women who attend. They are certain a man just dropped out of heaven to meet all their needs.
Looking around churches I do notice a definite lack of not only single men but men in general. The church I attended in a college town was full of young blonde women who arrived in SUV's with three perfect little blonde kids in tow but no men. Rings were evident so I guess the husbands were golfing or fishing. Or maybe it was opening day of deer season as we know that is a God approved holiday from any obligations.
I probably have attended more services in my lifetime than most of you readers. We had church three times a week and were expected to be there. Now some of you would point to my general cussedness as a sure sign that church really doesn't help anyone. I guess it’s just like living in a garage doesn’t make a person a car.
When I am in South Fork for the season, my mother makes me sing in the choir. This requires a mid-week practice interrupting my fishing schedules. I have learned to enjoy the choir members and since my mother has information to blackmail me with, I continue to go with a happy heart.
Regardless of your opinion of churches, they are mostly filled with people trying to do something positive. Yes, there are excesses as with all of man’s creations but overall, it’s pretty good. So if you are in for inspirational moments mixed with hilarious happenings and attempts at understanding God, find a local church and start attending. Be sure to pick one with a good potluck schedule so that you are never disappointed.