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To Find A Church, Or Several?

The family I'm staying with don't attend a church, so after coming here I needed to decide whether or not I would attend. I mean, it's a give in I'd find a church (or church-hop). But would I go to a church that had German services, or one with English services? 

There aren't all that many English speaking churches in Stuttgart, but I decided it would be nicer at first to be able to understand the services and worship. 

On the first Sunday here, though, I could barely make myself walk around the block. The idea of jumping on a tram and finding my way to some church was just too terrifying. 

I stayed at the house, biked for my first time with the family here, and just grew more at ease with my surroundings. The next week I spread out a little more, and felt confident enough to go anywhere I wanted on foot or bike. 

But close to the end of the week, I began to question my sanity. 

"Why did I come to Germany?" 

I can walk and write anywhere. I can take care of kids and make more money back home. I can force myself to learn more German at home. 

So why am I here in Germany? 

I couldn't remember. And I panicked a little. 
I wouldn't go home. I'm not a quitter. But ... that thought only made me more upset. I couldn't quit, and thus I'd be forced to waste six whole months of my life here. 

"I paid a $1000 and forfeited six months of income to ... ride my bike around?" 
That's one expensive bike ride. 

"Or to window shop?" 
For the first time in my life, I can't really afford to buy what I see in those windows. 

"Why am I here in Germany? Why did I come?"

I seriously couldn't remember. I'd worked so hard to get here, and grew to love my life back home in the process. Now I miss that life, and I'm finding that I didn't plan for while I am here. 

Before I left, somebody told me, "I hope every expectation of yours is fulfilled while over there."

The sad thing is that I don't think I ever stopped long enough to allow myself to have expectations. Or maybe my one expectation had been that I'd find things I love here because it's Germany. 

Which is a good expectation? But now that means I need to find those things. 

So I panicked. 
And then I calmed down. 
And then I thought about it. 
And then I started making plans. 

I woke up on my second Sunday here and decided to push ALL fear aside. I was going to find a church. 

As I've mentioned before, there aren't many English speaking churches. I googled my options and tried to make a decision. 

  • Catholic church? I really want to attend one still, as I respect so many catholic friends of mine and want to see how they do church. 
  • Baptist church? They believe enough like me I'd probably get something from the service. 
  • LDS? My friends would judge me, but I'm really curious about how they do services, too. 
  • SDA? I love these sort of services, but it looked like they only had German services. Still an option, just not yet. Also, not on Sunday anyways. 
  • Pentecostal? I love Pentecostals, so I'll probably still go there ... 
  • A non-denominational church called ICF? It reminded me a bit of the Belonging church, a modern church mini-mega church I sometimes attended when living in Tenessee. I don't really like big churches, and all the lights and smoke and noise ricochet too much through my chest that I feel I can't really sing. But ... it looked familiar, and it was the closest option. So I chose this one.  


 I chose the church I wanted. Their English services were at 4pm, so I spent the day doing small things, then boarded a train for the first time by myself and traveling forty minutes to a church I expected to not like. 

But I also needed to get out, meet other Christians (even if I didn't like them), and hear something about God. I needed to do something. 

This was the next big step I knew I needed to take. And I'd had a long enough time to breathe the week before, so there was no more "waiting at home for next week." 
 Amazingly, I didn't get lost and found my way to church ... the worship music pulled me the last few steps in the right direction.

My first reaction when entering the small, smoky, flashy room was that "Ahh! It's not as big as Belonging!"

There were maybe fifty people there? And they were dressed decently, not in ripped and stained clothes that looked ready for the garbage ;) And they were all mostly young, too.

I found an open seat kind of in the back, though the room was so small I was still close to the front. People sat around me ... no one left seats open or thought about personal space. I loved that ;D

The music was all new for me, except for one Hill Song. I couldn't sing, because it was too loud, but I enjoyed it a little. Except for the few times, the lights would shine directly in my eyes.

(Really, why must churches do all those lights and smoke and speakers??? It's so uncomfortable.)

And then the sermon. This middle-aged German guy (or maybe he's not German) came up and spoke about doubt. What he said held much truth, resonated often, and held many gems of humor.

He quoted from the scripture, and he drew us into who God is and where God wants us to be ... trusting God, and reaching out to accept His ever-waiting presence.

He spoke of how a man said to Yeshua, "I believe, yet help my unbelief."

How we can believe. Yet, we still don't. I know I came to Germany for a reason, whether it's to learn more or what, but I can't remember why. And so I must trust God to remind me and show me once more.

He went on to say, "But sometimes our doubts tell us to not believe so much. Because if God is so good, why is everything so bad?"

He picked up a thing of bubbles and started blowing them over the audience (I think we were all shocked, so we laughed). He said, "Life, even with God, is not a fantasy. We don't blow bubbles. We live a real-life, and it's still hard."

He spoke of something to do with Solomon ... I couldn't make out the second word. It sounded like he said, I kill logic. So he asked us, "do you know what I mean?"
Several people murmured "Archeology."
He then laughed about his poor English, which was actually quite good, and continued on.

He had a red rope tied to the rafters, and he pulled on in. "God holds the other end, and this is what he offers it. All we need to is hold onto it and let it support us—" he pulled against the rope, and leaned away ...but not too much. He said, "I don't trust this rope. But I trust God."

Someone's phone went off in the sound system area. Some pastors might have been embarrassed or upset that his sermon was disrupted, but he said, "Oh, that must be God calling to tell me I said something He doesn't agree with."

It was a beautiful, encouraging sermon.
I don't know if this was worth $1000 in and of itself, but maybe no one thing here will be worth the money I spent and the time I'm not making money.

Maybe, there will be many, many things that when added all up together will be what pays off.
Maybe, the lesson for me to learn is to trust God and forget the burden of money for a time.
To learn to simply be content in a quieter, slower life.

After the services, we all went down and they provided a warm meal. I guess they do this every Sunday after services.

Part of me didn't want to stay, but go straight home before I forgot my way back.
But I also knew I needed fellowship.

I didn't wait, but I shoved myself at people and introduced myself and said I was new, and before long I'd found a little group of people and we were all eating together and making future plans.

Some of the people in charge of helping around came and asked me if I wanted to be in their group chats, and I was added to that so that I could be invited to future activities they have planned.

I'll add one more lesson I learned here:
Everyone there was welcoming and accepting, and excited to see me.

But I could have simply left and said no one spoke to me, and that it was a horrible church with rude people.

I had to force myself to say hi to people, and to stay longer. 

Germany has made me somewhat of an introvert.
I've had to force my old extroverted side out over and over.
And I will probably have to continue to do so. But I'm glad every time I do.

And, after we ate and had a great fellowship, I found my way home, and I slept wonderfully.
I didn't expect to like that church so much or to even love it. But I did and I do, and I will most certainly be returning regularly there.

Of course, I plan to still go to those other churches I listed, too. But since the others all have English morning services, I won't actually ever have to miss ICF.
(Two churches in one day a few times won't be so bad).

Have you ever rode on a train (or technically, I think I was on a tram)?
Have you had to force yourself to do things that were so far out of your comfort zone? 
What sort of things have your doubts almost made you miss out on?

Comments

  1. I've road on a train, but not a tram. So interesting! Hope you learn a lot over there, and things get better. I understand your doubts.

    astordetective.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's a sort of sub way as it's under the ground half of the time. But yes, love learning everything ... though it's soooo much. It's like I'm in highschool again, but more ;D

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  2. Been on the trains and the tube while in England. Actually fell asleep on one last time, but I can fall asleep anywhere, lol If you can keep an ear for the station you need to get to, it's not that bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha I could see myself falling asleep. Thankfully I pretty much leave at the end of the route, so I wouldn't have far to walk if I missed my stop. But maybe I'll grow that ear you're speaking of.

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  3. This is SO cool, Keturah! I'm so glad you've found a good church to attend. As someone who finds stepping out of my comfort zone VERY difficult, you really inspire me. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm quite happy to have found a church I like so soon, for sure :) Thanks ... it's encouraging to hear that ;)

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  4. You're very brave, I don't go anywhere by myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brave or stupid, or maybe neither ... maybe I just like going places and it's hard to get others to go with me ;) But you know, I think you could totally be brave! Just take that walk around the block ... and who knows where you'll end up at ;)

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