I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen the inside of a church recently, apart from going to a wedding and a funeral over the last few years. I've been to Sunday School and Youth on the odd occasion, but actually sat through a complete service, well - it's been roughly 15 - 20 years. The last time I went to church was when my Grandparents took my brother and I to church on Christmas morning.
I'm not against going to church, and have often been asked why I don't go. I think it probably has a lot to do with the way we were brought up, my Mom and Dad are of different faiths and for that reason we just never really went to church. I guess I just didn't think it was important at the time.
Right now, this is something I feel I really need (and want) in my life and it's as good a time as any to do something about it. Friends of ours moved into the area and have also wanted to join a church closer to where they are now staying. I convinced Geoff that now would be the perfect time to visit a few churches in the area and decide on one that we liked the best.
This morning we visited our first church in the area - The Bay Family Christian Church in Somerset West.
What I liked about this church was the friendly and excited way we were greeted as we walked in. We were ushered to our seats and the whole atmosphere was one of celebration. The music was uplifting and the first few songs really got everyone in a praising and celebrating mood. I also liked the fact that there seemed to be a large mix of people from all walks of life, the dress code wasn't formal - but it wasn't slops and shorts either. The church is so big that there is a projector on one side of the wall with words to the scriptures that were currently being read. This made it easier to follow as we didn't bring our bibles with us.
Unfortunately, that's about as far as the good things go. The service was just under 2 hours, which was to be expected. Please don't take this the wrong way, I realise that you're there to praise God and it's so little time out of your week, but for me personally, an hour and a half is more than enough. After that, I found it hard to concentrate on what was being said. Half way during the service, two sets of pre-printed envelopes were handed out to everyone to make a donation, and baskets were passed around soon after to collect them. I don't carry cash on me at all, and I felt embarrassed (more like mortified) that I had no money to give. After leaving the church I felt quite disappointed. In my opinion, shouldn't you want to give a donation freely out of the goodness of your heart, as opposed to being expected to put something in a pre-printed envelope?!
The whole experience was interesting, and I got out of that service what I needed to, but unfortunately this is one church that I really won't be attending again - specifically for the last reason above. But that's just me, each to his own.
I sincerely hope that this isn't the norm with the next few we see. Remaining positive...