For the last two weeks we have a visited a small...well, maybe smaller is the right word...United Methodist church, and have actually enjoyed it in comparison to other churches we have recently visited. It's not perfect; the music could use some fine-tuning, the slide projector person needs to pay closer attention to what's happening, and the congregation is not exceptionally exuberant in their singing, but in some ways that only adds to the church's charm. It's a real church filled with real people.
One of the things that DH and I appreciated was having the kids with us in the service. An issue that we have spent much time discussing is the splitting up of families during the church hour. For two years our kids have been separated from us from beginning to end. While that approach is appropriate for young children, school-age children are fully capable of participating in the church service. We have wanted a place where our children could see us, and other families, worshipping together, to understand that the church is a community of people of all ages, united in a single purpose.
After worship, the kids were called up for a 5-minute "children's sermon" and then went off to children's church, freed from listening to the sermon. Today was interesting because the church served communion, an important part of worship for me. In the past, we have not allowed our children to partake, saving it until such a time that we were sure they understood the seriousness and meaning of it. That has been our personal decision, not one based on a particular theological/denominational stance. All that was thrown out the window this morning when the children returned with their leaders to take communion with the rest of the church. The boys were happily in line with their comrades, marching toward the altar. Conflicted, I looked at DH. He shrugged and said not to worry about it. Part of me was a little disappointed because I would have liked to have known beforehand that this would be the morning of their first communion, but part of me was also glad that the church thought enough of the ritual to involve the children and workers in the other building.
DH and I have been generally pleased with the church and will definitely visit again. Although DH grew up in a United Methodist church, I am not overly familiar with its background or deeper theological beliefs. However, considering that I have never been a part of a church in which I was in 100% agreement on every issue, I'm not sure how much difference that will make to me....unless, of course, we have to get bar-code tattoos, or drink special Kool-Aid. That might throw me off my game.