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Author Topic: Church hopping observations  (Read 2925 times)

GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Church hopping observations
« on: January 26, 2014, 06:26:12 PM »
As a retired pastor I've had a lot of fun visiting various congregations in our travels.  I've just done a blog entry of my observations.  Even if you haven't been in the habit of attending churches in the past, you may find that attending as a traveling RVer adds an enjoyable and important dimension to your life.  You'll find my thoughts on my blog (link in signature line).
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 09:22:13 AM by Tom »
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scottydl

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 07:57:53 PM »
I always kinda wondered about that practice of visiting different churches while on the road.  Our home church is such a family to us (even with average attendance of 6000 each week!) that I always hated missing services when camping.

We've never been extended RV'ers but I often would notice church welcome signs at some campground entrances.  I remember when small towns often had those church signs also, along with welcome messages from local groups like Jaycees and Shriner's.
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Punomatic

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2014, 08:51:20 PM »
DW and I spent a year looking for a new church closer to home after being so involved in ministry that we were putting 120 miles/week on the car commuting to and from church.  We noticed that in most churches we were mostly ignored by the regulars, except for the pastors, who practically leapt over the pews to greet us. They did seem particularly interested that we were looking for a new local church.  Human nature, I guess.

Later we moved to another town and started our church hunt all over again.  The first church we visited was friendly; the pastor preached about building God's kingdom; and the pastor's wife suggested we visit other churches in town, "So that you end up where God wants you to be." We joined up about a month later.  We've been members for three years now, and the church still has a kingdom view. And once again, we are very involved in ministry, but now we are 1.5 miles from church, instead of 15 miles!

Thanks for your post, and your blog; it's a fun read! Happy trails, and my God bless you, wherever you go!
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John From Detroit

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 06:44:47 AM »
That is one of the advantages of being Catholic..  It is all one church... Only the faces change. (well that, the accent, the homily and a few other things of little importance).
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donn

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2014, 07:31:13 AM »
As someone who has served in a church for about 7 years i totally understand about visitors.  A churches vision of how visitors are treated say volumes about that church.  We were just talking last night about the story of a new pastor that came to his church.  He came dressed like a bum, no one greeted him, no one spoke to him.  In fact he was asked to sit in the back.  When the elder introduced him to great cheering, he calmly got up walked to the platform to stunned silence.  When he was through two minutes lated he dismissed the audience.
As a camp host who is in one place for a month at a time i too know what it is like to try new churches.  Lucky for us, we have usually picked friendly outgoing ones.
God bless your devotion and sacrifice.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2014, 08:19:09 AM »
Quote
That is one of the advantages of being Catholic..  It is all one church... Only the faces change. (well that, the accent, the homily and a few other things of little importance).

Perhaps for the Roman Catholic Church, but I think that members of the Orthodox Catholic Church (aka Eastern Orthodox) might have a different view.

I think that Pastor Cundiff was indeed talking about those different "faces" that each congregation can project, despite being the same church, so the fact that "the faces change" is the very point. Perhaps protestant denominations have more variety than Roman Catholic, but there certainly seem to be differences there as well.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 08:22:36 AM by Gary RV Roamer »
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scottydl

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2014, 09:13:56 AM »
A churches vision of how visitors are treated say volumes about that church.

That's a really good point.  Our church leadership must have figured that out, because all our services include a public visitor greeting and invitation to meet church staff and ask questions afterwards.  It's a very welcoming atmosphere.  I also remember being on vacation as a kid and visiting churches, and being invited to a meals and other events with church members.  Very fond memories!
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donn

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 09:26:53 AM »
The church we are now attending is on the small side(100-120) so each week after service everybody is invited to stay for coffee and goodies.  This is a good place to spend a few minutes with people who you might only see once a week.  We are also starting a Friday night service and by summers end pastor wants to add a mid week service.  He, like me are firm believers in following the early churches meeting daily. 

GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2014, 09:33:05 AM »
That is one of the advantages of being Catholic..  It is all one church... Only the faces change. (well that, the accent, the homily and a few other things of little importance).

Jon I understand your point.  Your church is rich in traditions and the focus is more on the liturgy than on the sermon and music as it is in most evangelical churches.  I agree that it is likely easier for you to plug into the worship service of churches you visit. 

While most of us low-church types don't think we have a liturgy we really do.  Most any church follows the same order of worship week after week.  The difference is that different churches even within the same denomination each have their own.  I'm no expert, but I think the more liturgical Protestants have a more uniform approach to worship: Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist (probably in diminishing order).   At the opposite end of the spectrum the Independents, Baptists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals and several others are all over the place in what happens when.

Either way, my post was more about how visitors find the right door to enter, are greeted as walk-in visitors, etc.  I'd think that those concerns would apply to many churches across the varied traditions of the Church.
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Frank Hurst

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2014, 01:08:44 PM »
DW and I have visited several churches while traveling and have really enjoyed the experiences. We are pretty out going people so we usually are the ones shaking other peoples hands. We drove about 40 miles out of our to find a Baptist church in Dell, WI and was not given a very warm welcome. But that was their loss. That didn't stop us from visiting other churches along the way. I am not one to wait to be invited to church. I feel that if you are a Christian you should not have to be invited to church. 
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John From Detroit

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2014, 03:52:04 PM »
In the words of Dr. Rev. Scott Hann, who at the time was the pastor of a Presbyterian church   In his, and most other Protestant churches the focus (And I can prove this) is on the sermon.. Or in other words the thoughts of the pastor.

The proof:

Ever drive past a church and on the sign out front: This Sunday,  Rev S.Davis preaching on the Evils of Mr. Booze

(By the way, just to keep it honest, Sammy Davis Jr. Sings a song about the evils of Mr Booze at the fake Revival meeting in the movie Robin and the Seven hoods, staring him and the rest of the Gang, (Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and I forget the last one).  I use that scene for this post so as not to offend any REAL church).

In the Catholic Church the focus is on Christ and his sacraface for us..

Again, that is the observation of a PROTESTANT minister who went to a Roman Catholic Church..   His book (The one I got this from) is titled Rome Sweet Home.

As for the Orthodox.. While it is true I might feel out of place.. The same comments I made about the Roman Catholic church often apply there as well.,, For example a Greek Orthodox going to a "Strange" Greek Orthodox might just feel welcome.

As for me... Well, I sat down in St. Paul the Apostle some 5 winters ago.. and within 10 minutes was seated with the Choir and holding a heavier hymnal (The one with mufti-part harmony in it instead of melody only) .

Now.. I tend to get that kind of welcome.. Perhaps it's just me.

Another church I felt downright welcome at... Bill Brown's Cowboy Church in Townsend GA (On the Cathead Creek Ranch campus)... Though the Cowboy Churches were started by a Presbyterian.   Bill is Baptist trained and follows in their traditions.. And one thing they are very very (many times very) Good at is making people feel welcome, or if you like family and fellowship.

When I go back in June for the big event,  That's where I'll park... And I'll likely bring a plate of cookies over on Thursday (less I have to be elsewhere, Do not know just exactly when the big event will happen)  Though on Sunday I'll sing elsewhere,, Possibly with my Darling Daughter.

(The big event.. She is with child).
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mnmnutswer

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 07:00:34 PM »
Here is a site with Church's all over the US. Just pick the state then the city, lot's to pick from.

http://www.21tnt.com/roll/illinois.shtml
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wscap

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2014, 11:50:17 AM »
Thanks for the post. I think it is always interesting to visit other congregations. But as Christians we are all members of one body and each other. So in reality we are just visiting different family members. For me personally, I am a Christian Evangelist and the ministry God gave to my wife and I is a full time outreach to the camping/RV community. We are also Area Representatives for Voice of the Martyrs. So our job is to visit churches. When we are in our home town we continue to worship with our "home" congregation and to work for our community. But when I am not preaching or giving VOM presentations I love to visit churches. I really like to visit campground services. It is sad to me that so many campgrounds (especially in the north) have abandoned Sunday morning services. Helping campgrounds establish/re-establish church services is actually how our ministry got started. Now we will be spending an average of 2 months a year in our home town.

RoyM

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2014, 01:01:51 PM »
I have not attended church for many years (a variety of reasons I won't go into) but I remember a service in KC right after the Iranian embassy hostage incident. When these people learned I am Canadian they were all over me, couldn't do enough to make me feel welcome. I told them we are proud of our ambassador's actions but I don't even know the guy. It was a little embarrassing. ;D
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BinaryBob

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 03:19:42 PM »
We visited the jazz great Al Green's church in Memphis while we were there. This was a loud musical experience complete with the Bishop Green. Quite a culture shock to my staid German Lutheran upbringing..... :)
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John From Detroit

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2014, 05:17:19 PM »
Either way, my post was more about how visitors find the right door to enter, are greeted as walk-in visitors, etc.  I'd think that those concerns would apply to many churches across the varied traditions of the Church.

Well, I will tell you this thread reminded me of a story.. You are, by the way, quite right in that some churches are more welcoming to strangers than others,,, Within even the Catholic church some parishes are more welcoming than others.. Two stories, One is true. The other.. Well I dont know.. We will start with that one:

A young man got excelent grades, this despite the fact he was the first of his line to ever graduate high school,  His grades were so good a college offered him a full scholarsip.. Room, board, tutition fees, books and a stipend.

But he had to get there on his own.

So he and his parents managed, with a lot of help, to raise bus fare.

It is now winter break.. he is thinking he'd like to go home for Christmas but alas..... No dough  So he does what college students have been doing since the invention of the college.. He hitches a ride on the thumbnail express.... 3 days later, on a Sunday morn, he is approaching (On foot) this town, he's been 3 days on the road, 3 day growth of beard.. He hears church bells and thinks "Would be nice to go to church" So up the steps and inside he goes.... Only to be shown out again and the door locked behind him.

He sits down on the steps and begans to cry when another traveler, even more weary, sits down beside him, puts his arm around him and says "Do not cry my son, I've been trying to get in there for years, and they won't let me in either"

He looks up into the face of his fellow traveler.... and realizes said traveler is Jesus Christ himself.

Now the true story:
Was at a funaral today, Woman who was born many years ago (1928) and baptized just after birth (Oh by the way, Save the condolances, I was there as a choir member,, I go to many funerals that way, Did not know her at all). but.. Turns out her baptisim certificate was misplaced so she never was confirmed nor did she make her first communon... Till just recently.

The last pastor of our parish (He'd been there I think 4 years) found out about her problem, Grabbed the phone, Made a trans-atlantic call, I strongly suspect twisted a few arms (He was a JCL  (Jurist Canon Law) so he knows how to twist arms, and research).. And as fast as the postal service could deliver.. had a copy (Certified) of her baptisim cert in his hand... THings progressed very fast and she was confirmed and made her first communion likely within the week.. And last week,  Well today was her funeral.. (Oh, we have a new pastor now, his first funeral at this parish).

I was thinking of the last parish I belonged to, where I first joined the choir.. The old Pastor.. I'd say about 60-70 percent chance hed have made that call.. Better chance he would have assisted the member.. The deacon, add 10%..  The current pastor.. 0.00%..

Our new pastor here in SC.. Well if it ever happens again,, he does not have a choice :) (He agreed on that one) I mean he has some big shoes to fill,  so far he's doing well.

Yes, some churches/parishes are better than others when it comes to extending the hand of welcome, or a helping hand.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

GR 'Scott' Cundiff

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2014, 08:33:34 PM »
I'm really enjoying the "church stories" people are posting.  Thanks for sharing!

We haven't been moving as much over the winter so we've been in our new home church quite a bit.  For the past few weeks we've been in Rockport, TX and visiting a church here.  This church is VERY used to having visitors because the area is full of winter people.  The first Sunday we visited we ended up sitting in the back of the overflow - the place was packed.  Since then some of the winter people have (mistakenly in my view) already headed north so we haven't had as much trouble finding a place to sit.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 09:29:59 AM by GR 'Scott' Cundiff »
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John From Detroit

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2014, 05:25:56 AM »
One of the more interesting things here in South Carolina.....

My first year with the Choir (I sometimes tell how I joined the choir,, Drafted I was), we were invited by the Knights of Columbus to sing for our supper (Enteerain at the annual holiday bash)  so as is usually the case "Birds of a feather" and all that.. The Choir, plus  Spouses, many of whom are also in the choir, was for the most part sitting at the same table.

Louie, who does not sing but IS married to our music director is from Alaska.
The rest of us.. Including the Music director who got her first academic degree from Eastern Michigan University.... Michigan, including one woman who grew up about 2 miles from my wife.   The ENTIRE table, Louie was the only one NOT from Michigan.
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Rancher Will

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Re: Church hopping observations
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2014, 05:37:37 AM »
One of my wife's brothers and his wife live in a small city in Indiana. We visit ther almost every year for a few days each time.  The first year we were invited to park our 5th Wheel RV in the church parking lot at the church my brother-in-law attends. The church members even invited us to run an electric cord from an outlet in the church basement, through a window, to our RV. The Pastor refused any payment for us parking in their parking lot when we were first invited.

We have parked in that parking lot every year when visiting and we attend Sunday Services every year while parked there. Every Sunday I contribute a check in the collections plate that would equal about what a charge would be if we were in an RV Campground for the time we camp there. We are always invited back and we have made a number of friends there.

 

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