Part 3 – church
I have been mentioning quite a bit in my posts that I am wanting to find a new church. So here’s what’s going on with that.
When I moved to Toronto, it was after spending a year in South Korea. Before that, I lived out at my parents’ house. So in November 2016 when I arrived here in Toronto, I hadn’t been attending a church regularly for at least two years.
When I was living with my parents, I would go to their church sometimes, but not often. The whole small country church is good up to a point but after a while I miss a more engaging service.
I moved here the very last weekend in November and by March my soul was aching for a church. I had never really had that before. As most of you know, I’m doing a 100-days of spiritual renewal right now (more on that later) and I guess that renewal started in March of 2017 with wanting to find a church.
I didn’t realize what a big difference between a Calvinist church and an Arminian there was. Every church that was close to me was Calvinist, and I’ve been raised under the Arminian thinking so that shift was not going to work for me. So it took a lot of research. Just by chance one day, I was out doing some errands and I stopped for lunch at a fast food place and right beside it there was a church. I took down the name and researched it when I got home and it seemed to fit everything that I was looking for so I gave it a chance!
And I’ve been there ever since!
At first, I really loved it. The worship leader was amazing, the pastor had a great delivery and good messages. It was a medium sized congregation I’d say. I was greeted by people and felt welcome and at ease very quickly. Which I honestly think is key when visiting a new church for the first few times all by yourself.
So I made that my church.
But then time came for the worship leader position to become a full time position and the person who was leading it wasn’t a member of our church. She was asked if she wanted to become a member, but her and her husband/family were members of a different church so she declined the position. It went to someone else, and he does an ok job but I don’t enjoy it as much as before.
But still I stayed! In September of 2018 I joined a small group which met every other Friday evening. Back then I was still a nanny and Fridays were my days off so it was perfect. The meetings were at the church, again this was perfect for a transit user like myself. The group was full of adults. Like I know I’m an adult, but these were adults. All married with grown children. I was the youngest there at 31 years old. The next was 45, and the oldest, the most respected elder at the church, in his 80’s. I did feel a little out of place at the start, but I signed up for this group because it was led by the associate pastor and he was the only person I knew from all the sign up sheets.
It was ok for that year. Last September, I didn’t sign up again but my name stayed in the group. Starting my teaching job and then having to go to the group at 7pm on a Friday was a little too much for me. So I missed all of September and October, but started going again in November.
Also in November, the lead pastor of our church retired. The board decided that instead of hiring a new lead pastor, the associate pastor would be promoted to lead pastor, and they would hire a “teacher pastor” to do sermons every week. I’d never heard of this way of doing things before but I totally get it. It might sound bad to say it, but the associate pastor is not the best preacher. At least for my way of listening. He is loud and shouts his message. Which may be what some people like, but not me.
So now this man was running the small group I was in and that dynamic has shifted, the worship leader had changed so that experience had shifted, and the Sunday sermons were being shouted at me which means I’m not listening. I knew it was time for a change.
In February I wanted to stop going to the small group. It just wasn’t working for my work schedule. I expressed these concerns to The Cuddle Buddy and he said to stick it out, but also church was “my thing” not his. I think he thought I was going to stop going to make more time for him? But I would never do that for a guy LOL
I tried to make it work for the month of March but at March Break, I was going to stop going. I had offered to cook for that meeting since I was on break and it would be my only chance, and then I was going to leave. But then COVID happened and that meeting was cancelled.
They continue to do meetings online at 7pm on a Friday and I am not doing a video chat for something that I don’t like attending. Especially when I was turning off my laptop at 5pm or so to get a break from it and work. Sunday services are online as well but they are so frustrating and annoying that I am never fully present. And I won’t go back to the building because they are having open air singing which I just don’t feel comfortable around right now.
So I am in search of a new church. I think I have found a nice one. It is a 45 min bus ride from my current living space but only 25 from my new. Which is amazing! I have been watching their services online and they have a good worship and message. It’s all recorded in advance which makes it a much more pleasant experience. The lead pastor has a very pleasing style of preaching and so far I really like it.
Their building isn’t open yet, but they have a very large congregation. A guy I went on one date with last winter actually recommended it and that father of my old nanny family would periodically catch a service there. So it has some solid recommendations.
I am excited to give this new one a try, but am also a little sad that my time at the old one is coming to a close. A friend from the small group keeps in touch by text and we check in with one another on a regular basis, and she wants to see me again at the church and stuff but I just don’t think that I will ever be going back. I won’t this weekend and next I will be at my parents’. And the next I am moving and then I think that’s it. Once school starts again I think I will feel better about going to services but I am hoping the new church will be opening its building then for services and I can go.