matt and i have talked a few times about church and about wanting to raise our children as church-goers. or at least raising them as members of a church community. while this is not a stretch for matt, who grew up going to catholic church every sunday and went to ccd classes and was an alter boy, this is a big thing for me. i was not raised as a member of a church. i was baptized at 2 years old, and then we went maybe once or twice a year at christmas and easter. my sister was not baptized until she was 15. church just wasn't an important part of our lives. as i got older, and especially once i graduated college and was living at home for a while, i started going more regularly. but it still never seemed important enough for me to find my own church. i go when i'm home on holidays and sometimes on weekends. and getting married in my church was weirdly important to me.
my home church is a lutheran church and i love it. but i think i love it because my "roots" are there. matt was raised catholic, and i refuse to raise our children as catholics. no offense meant to anyone who is catholic, i just find the catholic church to be hypocritical and closed-minded. the church, not the parishioners. let me be clear. i know plenty of perfectly lovely catholic people. i just cannot imagine giving my time and money to the catholic church.
so we're talking about trying to find a church around our home that we can join and later baptize and raise our children in. there are plenty of churches around us to look into. i'm just not even sure what denomination to try. protestant, methodist, lutheran, presbyterian, episcopal. i want to find a church that welcomes all walks of life with open arms. that encourages service to others. that teaches love and respect for others. that does not teach fear as a form of discipline (matt once told me that he behaved as a child because he was taught that if he misbehaved he would go to hell - i am no ok with this). but above all, i want to find a church where we both feel comfortable and as a part of a warm community.
i thought about it more this weekend, and tried to decide exactly what i want to raise our children to believe. and i realized that this will be difficult for me, since i'm still not sure what i believe. what i would like to do is have open, frank, honest discussions with our children about religion and god and jesus. but in order to do this, i feel like i need to read the bible or take bible study classes. i know next to nothing about the bible. the most i know about christmas is what i learned from piecing together sermons from church and watching christmas movies. what i know about good friday and easter i learned from watching the passion of the christ. i'm pretty clueless. and part of that ignorance comes from my inability to grasp some of the concepts of the bible. and part of it also comes from my inherent need to rebel against anything i've ever felt "forced" upon to believe or support.
but i like the feeling i have when i'm church. i feel like i'm being heard. by whom, i don't know. but i feel comforted and at peace. a kind of serenity washes over me. the world around me and inside my head gets quiet and i can just be with myself. and this is and of itself says a lot, because it's often hard for me to turn my brain off. but when i'm kneeling in church, i just feel calm. i feel like all my troubles and worries and concerns are washed away, even if just for a brief moment. and sometimes, that's all i need.
in an ideal world, matt and i will find a church that we're happy with. i will attend some bible studies and familiarize myself a bit more with the lessons and teachings and stories. our children will be baptized and attend bible school. and we, as a family, will discuss those teachings and ideas and lessons. our children can then choose to be confirmed and continue to attend church if they see fit. and if not, that's ok, too. i will not force our children to attend church once they have the mind to make that decision.
how did you (or would you) go about finding a new church for you and your family? where do you think we should start?