It seems that God has been working behind the scenes to pull some things together along the lines of church for us. Several things have happened recently:
About a month ago, we dropped out of the small group study that we had been attending at another Reformed congregation because we had several people interested in a small group nearby our house. After we backed out of the group we were attending, every family backed out of the study at our house. For the last 3 weeks we have been doing something at home by ourselves. Waiting…..
A couple of weeks ago, we drove to the Kansas side and saw and heard Alistar Begg . One of the things Pastor Begg said that really confirmed for us what we need to do at some point in the future is "drive as far as necessary to get into a good Bible preaching congregation"
The church that was able to accomodate Pastor Begg was an E-Free church. The only E-Free church we had any familiarity with before this was one in Knoxville that we visited once when home to see my family– very seeker friendly and modernish. But the church where Pastor Begg spoke is not like this. (We also greatly respect the Bott station manager and this is the church he attends). We were pleasantly surprised.
The other weekend on my way back from the Above Rubies retreat, I passed by a church building we had never noticed before about 40 minutes from home. (We don’t go that way but maybe twice a year so that wasn’t really the unusual part). But it was an E-Free church. I took note of the location and told Shane about it when I got home.
Shane did some research the next day and found the website. We were amazed! It looked like a possibility. Then he called the Pastor. They spoke for at least 30 minutes. Very unusual, consider the conversation usually last’s about 3 minutes– it usually ends when Shane asks about having the children with us for class instead of Sunday School. And the pastor says "Oh, that would never work at our church"
It seemed that all the answers were the "right" answers for us. Shane asked more. The "right" answers kept coming. Here is what he found out:
They are a Reformed congregation.
About 175 members.
Most of whom homeschool.
They are using John Piper’s Bible study materials.
They have an age-integrated class for the summer (memorizing scripture together as a church).
When they resume Bible classes in the fall– the father’s will be teaching the children.
There are several families that keep their children with them in the adult class. If we aren’t comfortable with sending the children to Bible class it is no big deal.
They alternate with home groups and prayer meeting every other Wednesday night. (Not too many churches left that have prayer meetings.).
The congregation is several years old, has elders and is debt free!!! (Members of the church helped to build the building)
Since we are having Bible study at home by ourselves on Wednesday nights, we went to the Pastor’s small group last night. (There are several small groups meeting on Wednesday nights). In this small group they are studying Doug Wilson’s "Reformed Marriage" which we have seen but not read before. Very interesting and good discussions. The teen girls that were there were well mannered, and dressed. The people were friendly and we seemed to have some things in common with them besides our faith. Shane and I both enjoyed getting to know the people last night. (So much that it was 11:30 before our heads finally hit the pillow). There were no other children present this week, but one of the ladies said that her 2 girls that are still at home (11 and 13) usually attend. At least 2 families present last night have 6 children, there was also a single lady that seemed very comfortable.
Since this is a holiday weekend, and we have no committments at church this Sunday, Shane feels we could visit this week. If it goes well, we will find other opportunities to visit between now and the end of the year. And we can attend on Wednesday’s. Which we feel will give us a good feel for the congregation
We are fairly certain that God will not release us to attend this church or any other on a permenant basis until at least January. But if we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we can survive until then.
We will still have the issue of telling Shane’s family that we are leaving "the church" but there are just not any churches in the denomination (at least in our area) that we feel comfortable with attending on a permenant basis. We are praying that it will not devestate his grandparents especially. Of course, there may be no reason to even tell them since we are not seeing them as often as we were when we were living in the same town. We will need to tell his parents as they have been to church with us before and have spent time with our preacher and his wife. But we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
For now…. we have hope!!!!