First, visiting churches has multiple purposes for us. With both of us being pastors, it’s a rare opportunity for the four of us to attend worship together as a family.
Because we are pastors, we do more than worship when we attend other churches — we also reflect and evaluate (it’s the way we’re wired)! Sometimes we’re thinking, “Uh oh, we do that, too — we need change that!” and other times, “That’s something we could try (or an adjustment we could make).”
To find a church today, I searched online (can’t remember the last time I used a telephone book) at 10thousanddoors.org, the UMC’s Find-A-Church service. I searched for churches near our location. Amazingly, there are 147 United Methodist churches within 25 miles of the local zip code.
I breezed through at least 50 church pages. It was a fairly quick process because the vast majority did not personalize their pages (every United Methodist church is encouraged to update/maintain their church’s info page), which means there was no information on most of the churches.
Most churches had average attendance numbers, which appears to be included for most/all churches by default. Because so few were personalized, I only came across a few churches that had websites or photos posted. In the end, after weeding out small churches, churches with no info, photos, or service times, we settled on a church located 24.5 miles away, Chapel Hill UMC in Buckhannon, West Virginia (by the way, we weeded out small churches only because we didn’t want to stick out too much while on vacation).
I’ll share more detailed reflection and evaluation on today’s worship experience with leaders at Centre Grove, but here, I’ll simply say it was a learning experience, including a couple adjustments I want to make in our worship service. I also want to review Centre Grove’s Find-A-Church page. We’ve personalized it and I think it’s okay, but I want to take another look at it fresh from this experience (and keep it updated).
What experiences have you had finding churches to visit on vacation?