Friday, December 9, 2016

Change of Church Community: It is Like Moving To A New Neighborhood

Leaving one community to another.
I always thought that transferring church membership is like moving to a new neighborhood.  Leave your old residence and carry all that is important and start life in the new house and make it a home. Our old neighbors remain in the neighborhood until they decide to move somewhere else for one reason or another.

But why then do we feel betrayed when someone leaves the community to join another one?  Our beliefs and allegiance remain with us.  While we make tight friendships in church we take for granted that our faith remains not with the people but to God alone.  God is not monopolized by one community.  So if we feel betrayed when they leave is it because we believe that we have been the reason they were there to begin with?  The truth is, the community (or congregation) is chosen because it was a good fit at the time the family moved.  Unfortunately, the parameters for a good fit change.

Strangers in a New Place.
After 16 years, we left our old church community in search of a better place for us to grow as a couple and family. When we began going to the new place, everything was new.  Like going on vacation, the place does not feel or taste like home but we like it.  We were like tourists.  Everything looked interesting - the culture is different and fascinating.  We observed with caution and yet we wanted to try as much as we can in a given time without looking awkward - although we probably looked awkward anyway.😉

When people talked about how long they have attended this church that is when we felt like we are no longer at home.  Somewhere we once were the long-timers, but in this place we are the newbies. We got to learn everything, we got to meet the people, we got to be known by them - or else we would remain strangers.

Tourists No more.
One can only remain a tourist for so long.  There come a time when we cease to be content in watching and being in the fringes of the community.  There come a time when we want to do what the locals do for a deeper sense of experience and belonging.

Our family travels quite a bit.  And in our attempt to break away from the touristy experience, one of things we like to do when we're in a different country is to rent a house or an apartment that is situated where the locals live.   We get to shop at the local grocery store instead of the gift shops, eat at restaurants that cater to the residents instead of tourists, use the public transportation instead of shuttle buses that go from hotels to tourist places, and most importantly, we get to see how the inside of a home furnished by one of the local folks instead of a generic hotel arrangement.  Doing what the locals do make us feel like we belong.

Well, we have been slowly making our way into our new home church.  Attending the smaller gatherings and activities between Sundays; doing small things like bringing donuts to share; and participating in however small way we can in our capacity as newbies  - all helped in makings us part of the community.

New Culture
When we moved to El Dorado Hills, we didn't know everything about the place other than it was close to Intel where Tim would be working (15 minute commute!) and the our house because it had built-in Ethernet cables (this was important before WiFi was a thing).  But it turned out that there were more things than that.

We decided on Oak Hills for a very simple but uncommon reason - we agree with what the church is doing. So far, we are enjoying getting to know more and more of our "neighbors".  As we get ourselves immersed into this new place, a new culture is slowly pushing out the old out of our system and we like it that way.  We are open for change and improvement on the things that matter.   We are confident that He will always help us - so that we can be fully blessed as much as to fully bless others in our new neighborhood.

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