I have been a Christian since I can remember. I was born one and made a conscious decision to stay a Christian when I was old enough to make the choice myself. Naturally, as a practising Christian, I go to church on most Sundays. As such, one of the key things on my to do list for when we arrived in Calgary was to find a church to settle as a family in.
My first port of call was good old google. I searched for churches in the area I knew we would be living in and I quickly settled for one that seemed to tick all the boxes based on their website. Their website looked exciting, Jesus. Check. Kids church, Check. 8 minutes drive from my house, even better.
Excitedly, this morning, I got everyone ready and we got to church 10 minutes late. Not too bad as we still met the worship session. The preaching was okay but I missed most of it because my kids would not settle in the adults church and I had trouble trying to get them into the kids church.
However, I felt anything but welcome as soon as we walked in. I have to confess that I did not fully appreciate the importance of ushers until my experience this morning. This church was a big church, I will estimate about 250 members with three services every Sunday. So, surely, having new members shouldn’t be new to them. In my experience in church for the last 20+ years, new people get even special treatment. We get asked to put up our hands and additional information about the church gets handed to us. People go out of their way to say hello to us and most definitely, an usher welcomes you to the church and tries to find you a seat in this new environment.
However, no one said a word to us when we arrived, there was no usher in sight. If there was one, we didn’t notice him or her. I had to find a seat for the four of us, and once settled, I headed off to find the kids church.
Now, this was where I decided I was never going back to that church again. The kids seemed to be sitting and watching a video about a lesson there were to be learning about before the breakout sessions. Nothing wrong with this, however, I couldn’t find an adult to ask how the kids church worked, if I could deposit my kids there for the next hour, where to sign them in, etc. There was no one to ask. I went back with my now disappointed son, who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t join the other kids and this time, there was a gentleman dispensing sweets for the kids, he glanced once at me, with two kids in my hands and went back to dispensing sweets. No hello, nothing. I had to remind myself I was at church.
I took my son to the bathroom, once again, bumped into another Sunday school teacher, I was eager to say hello and maybe finally ask her how to go about using the Sunday school, once again, she didn’t look interested in having a chat and was focused on the kids she brought to use the toilet. Which is fine.
To avoid going into too much detail, it was not a very nice feeling and I can’t imagine experiencing this and going back to church if I was not a Christian. I reported my experience to a friend and she asked maybe they were having an off day but, there were so many people involved in this off day that could have at least said hello. I wanted to say hello, but no one held my gaze long enough for me to do just that. It was a very upsetting experience if I am being honest.
I really wanted to like the church. I mean, I had spent ages on their website for the last three months and was so eager to get involved. We won’t be going back and my search for a warm welcoming church continues.
Most importantly, this serves as a reminder to me to be warm and friendly to people, particularly as a Christian. More so when I am at church. Church is where we encourage non-Christians to come to learn more about Christ, learning about Christ starts with the individual.
I hope we find somewhere soon!
Enjoy your week!