We love our church, River of Life Fellowship, but we don’t live in Indiana anymore and no matter how much you love a church, driving almost five hours to get there isn’t practical. We would also be driving past 4,451 other churches and I’m guessing we can make one of those 4,451 churches work – preferably one that’s fifteen minutes away.

Visiting new churches is not what I consider a good time. Maybe I should, but I don’t. We walk into a new church and immediately an elderly lady sees Elliot from across the room. She makes a beeline for us, cooing all the way. I voluntarily hand the baby over, assuming this old lady is more qualified than I am to raise children. She grabs Elliot who promptly slips out of her hands in a gooey, slimy shower of drool, oozes down the front steps of the church, and then slides across the parking lot – leaving a glistening trail of slobber. “Our baby drools a lot,” I say, assuring the distraught woman that it’s not her fault. “Don’t worry about it. We drop him all the time. It’s hard to hold on to him.” Well, on to another church. Maybe my children will behave next Sunday.

We feel like Goldilocks finding a bowl of porridge. This church is a little too hot and that one is a little too cold…

We visited a hot church the other Sunday. They had forty people in the pews and forty projectors set up front. One for each spectator I guess. I found myself watching the Mega-Tron, examining the pimple on the pastor’s neck. Occasionally I’d look down and realize the pastor was standing right in front of me. Why did we need such a huge screen again? Are people who go this church too poor to afford glasses?

Everyone was very receptive, warm, and inviting but then they tried to raise people from the dead several times during the service. Their philosophy seemed to be that if they shout loud enough, they could literally wake the dead. Maybe the dead people were holding on to the Pearly Gates and if we reasoned with them long enough, we could convince them to let go and fall to earth again. Or could it be that God doesn’t understand English? Maybe we should try some other languages. Then, just to cover our bases, we’ll come up with some new ones as well. I like that they believe God can do big things but it’s important to realize God doesn’t have to do big things. I think there’s a difference between expecting God to do the miraculous and trying to make God do the miraculous. Then when miracles don’t happen, we try harder next Sunday, which results in a circus that would make P.T. Barnum feel outclassed. Then again, who says we shouldn’t look a little strange when we’re following God? Maybe we should be more unorthodox than we are. Maybe we should challenge what culture views as normal.

Then, on the other side of it, there’s the cold church. You wander into the church and smile at the first person that walks past you. They stare back at you and raise an eyebrow, then adjust their suit coat button and sneak down the aisle to their pew. We follow him into the auditorium and collapse into a back pew, sighing heavily as diaper bags, babies, and Bibles spread across our bench like an oil slick from a sinking ocean liner. We prefer to sit in the back just in case we need a quick exit because sometimes Elliot poops as well as drools. We get a few judgmental glances from some folks sitting in front of us. Well, they don’t actually turn around and cast a glance but I can tell their upset about something because their jaw twitches. I’m scared to whisper so I try to psychically instruct my children to behave. Right on cue, Adi sneezes loudly and then laughs uproariously because sneezes are funny! I can tell the church is already thinking, Who is this crazy family with such wild children? Somehow their children sit there perfectly like mannequins. In fact, I’m tempted to poke one of them to see if they’re real. Then three hymns are sung and the preacher begins his sermon on the judgment of God with the charisma of a GPS voice guidance system. In the middle of the sermon my nose begins to itch but I’m terrified to raise my hand and scratch it. What if they think I’m raising my hand in worship? I think to myself. They’ll think I’m one of those snake handlers from the charismatic church down the road.

Of course, we’ve been meeting a ton of awesome people and have found several churches we like. It’s just challenging finding a new group of people to “fit in” with. It’s good practice though. In a little over two years we’ll be moving to a different location. Only God knows where that is.

“Wait a minute,” You may be asking, “Aren’t you moving to North Carolina in two years to do pilot training with Missionary Air Group?” Because of my color blindness, we have decided to change plans. I am going to be a maintenance specialist instead of a pilot/mechanic. This means that, instead of training with MAG when we’re done at MMS, we’ll be leaving for the foreign mission field! That’s the short story. I’ll write a blog with more details on our decision later.

I’m trying something. Instead of sitting down and writing a long blog (which takes a lot of time) I’m going to try to write blogs that are shorter but write them more often. We’ll see if I get that done. These missionaries! They go to the field and disappear forever.

Pray that we’d find a church body we could connect with. Pray that God prepares us for the place He has called us, and that He’d let us know where that place is. That’d be great!

Blessings from Ohio,

Josh

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