Visiting Churches

Making Personal Connections (Visiting Church #41)

“Hi, are you the DeHaans?” The usher’s question surprises me.

“Yes, we are.” I nod, a bit confused, but pleased at his acknowledgment.

“I’m Greg.” Then gesturing towards Candy, he explains, “I answered your email.”

I nod again, this time with a smile. “Thank you so much. It’s nice to meet you, Greg.” We shake hands.

Either he took time to Google my wife’s picture or they have few visitors and he assumed the new people matched the name in the email. Regardless, his extra effort honors me.

52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

We exchange some quick pleasantries and then head into the sanctuary. With few people milling about and most sitting, we do the same.

The service leans towards formality but in a casual way. We sing hymns with organ accompaniment. Brief bits of liturgy occur throughout. There’s an upbeat song by the choir, followed by a children’s message, prayers, and a sermon.

The minister concludes the service with a blessing as he dismisses us.

We exit the sanctuary, making our way into the fellowship hall for refreshments. We pick up a beverage and snacks; then we look for a place to sit. Many of the tables are full, with the rest hosting people engaged in closed conversations.

I pick an empty table. After a few minutes a woman asks to join us. We gladly welcome her, enjoying a meaningful dialogue as we share our faith journeys.

Our conversation warms my heart. She readily understands our sojourn and is able to engage in discussing the vast variations we’ve encountered along the way.

Just as with our fellowship experience two weeks ago, one person makes the difference between us feeling welcomed and ignored.

Today marks another memorable Sunday at church, celebrating God in community.

[Read about Church #40 and Church #42, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #41.]

My wife and I visited a different Christian Church every Sunday for a year. This is our story. Get your copy of 52 Churches today, available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.