I love visiting churches. Always have. I think what I like most is the feeling of being at home, that I’m among family, no matter how different it feels. I’ve been to many Protestant services, Catholic masses, churches in Portugal, France, England, all over the US, white churches, black Pentecostal churches, a French Quebocois church, different minority churches. No matter where it is, I feel like it’s home, just knowing that we’re brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a good feeling.
We visited Hillsong London today. Personally, I loved it. But I’m not sure it’s a place we could call home. For one, it’s so big (meets at a West End theater, the one that currently stages We Will Rock You and has 4 services each Sunday) that it feels chaotic. Also, and this is weird, but it’s kind of odd to be involved with a church that performs so well. Like, usually when I visit a church, I can’t help but critique the worship team, not necessarily in a judging way, just making mental notes of what I would have done differently. Hillsong London’s worship team sounds just like the worship CDs (mp3s? Don’t even know what to call them anymore). It’s virtually perfect. Perfectly in tune, perfectly arranged and played, perfectly mixed. Even the lyric transitions were perfect, moving to the next slide right as the last word of one slide is sung. There’s nothing to critique at all. The speaker also was incredibly practiced and smooth. Everything was just well-executed, which I liked. At the same time, it felt odd, and I’m not sure why. I think maybe I just like seeing imperfection at church as a tangible reminder that we’re all searching and in need of more beyond ourselves. It might also be that I was emotionally drained. I was tracking with the worship service so well, and it was so organized to hit emotional notes that I was exhausted afterwards. I’m not sure I could deal with that on a weekly basis.
Finding a good church is my biggest concern here. Everyone says they’re hard to find. We visited the Am3rican church (that’s the actual name) and it was slightly sad. The children’s program consisted of a woman taking kids down to a play room if any showed up. From what I hear, that’s kind of indicative of many churches in the country. Churches are dying.
Before we left the Bay Area, for our learning we visited a couple house churches we knew of in the Bay Area (“house churches” meaning my dad’s-style system of churches, not China-style house churches). Interestingly, both churches had guest speakers the weeks we visited, and both guest speakers were from England. I’m not sure if that means anything or not, but it was nice to talk to them about our move and a nice reminder that the church isn’t completely dead here.