root us here, oh God show us your heavens, God give us eyes to see and ears to hear to follow you beyond our fears beyond our wildest imaginations make us a blessing to the nations ~ Troy Bronsink, City Church - Eastside
A. and I have had quite a time trying to find a church home here in our new city. On our first go around choosing a church together, back in Huntsville, we knew it might be a bit difficult to mesh our drastically different backgrounds and desires for a church, but there was a much smaller pool of churches to choose from than there is here. We ended up at a pretty traditional church that surprised even me, but we were attracted to the WONDERFUL group of other young adults. Here, it was back to square one, and the characteristics we were looking for were all over the map. It was so hard to figure out where the things we wanted overlapped and to figure out which of the plethora of churches in the metro area was even worth a visit. I realized through the process that I’ve probably put too much emphasis on the outward trappings of church. I take great comfort in the traditional rhythms of church, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was also unnecessarily limiting our options here. Once I was able to let go of some of the things I thought church was “supposed” to have just because every church I’ve gone to has (Wednesday night supper, Sunday night Bible study, multiple Sunday school classes), we realized we weren’t so far apart after all, and that the non-traditional, neighborhood-oriented church nearby might just fit the bill for both of us.
I don’t know if we’ve officially settled in yet (although I did already sign up to be a helper in a kids’ Sunday school class), but we’ve been visiting consistently for a bit and have gone to several events apart from Sunday mornings. The first time we visited, I was taken aback by the music. I am used to (and enjoy) standard contemporary worship music, and this was nothing like that. Even the structure of the service was different from what I was used to, starting with a string of around 4 songs and then with a break for coffee and mingling before the sermon. I couldn’t figure out why I hated the music so much that first time, because if I listened objectively, it was a lot like some of the secular music I listen to - sort of folksy, with an alternative rock twang. And I think it all had to do with my expectations of what church music is “supposed” to sound like. Once I let go of those expectations (I can listen to other types of worship music on the radio in my car or on my iPhone, after all), I’ve been able to enjoy it much more. And really, what usually attracts me the most to songs are the words, a fact which ought to surprise no one. So even though I haven’t caught on enough to sing along with every song yet, I can still read the words and revel in their depth of meaning, an element often lacking in traditional worship songs.
In fact, this past Sunday, I had a powerful moment as we all sang. I couldn’t help but smile every time we hit the fifth line of the song I quoted above (which was actually written by the worship leader). Something about the chord progression and the rhythm and the energy of that line coming out of all of our mouths at once got to me. And I realized that when we let go of our expectations, God can often take us to places that are beyond our wildest imaginations. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?