Searching For a Home:: The Quest for Spiritual Community

Searching For a Home:: The Quest for Spiritual Community

If the loss of school and work and our social lives was not enough for one pandemic to take, this season of distanced existence has illuminated the need for new spiritual communities and connections around the globe. I have heard from many friends that as the world has physically stepped apart, the months of altered existence has reshaped their desire for and their connection to their church communities. In my life, that has come in the form of an intentional sabbatical from all things church-y. For the first time in my adult life I am choosing to explore and create space for different expressions of my soul-care time. For many others, they are realizing that the place that they have belonged and called home no longer fits the needs of their family. As I processed this common trend, I wondered if this area of life could provide what we all really needed:: permission to reevaluate.

Being Honest

We change. We change as people, as parents, as spouses and as seekers. Why would we assume that there would not be times that we need a spiritual change? The church that you picked 10 years ago {or 2 years ago} may not fit the needs, questions and spaces that you have landed on since that decision. There is absolutely nothing, not one single thing wrong with saying that you need a new spiritual home. What fit you then, does not fit you now. Congrats. You are a growing-up human! Now comes the real challenge. How do we know what a new home looks like? As someone who has been on all sides of church life, here are few thoughts on the quest for a landing spot

Treat it Like a New Relationship

Finding a new spiritual home is a commitment. If your family is looking for a place to fit and have friends and connect with faith in a real way, laying the groundwork for a successful relationship is worth all of the advance prep. Without it, you can quickly find yourself dreading your experience. The number of families that settle on a church because of one great program or a stellar speaker or that super cool band are endless. Let me help you out. That program will change. That speaker will leave. That band will get old. It will. Knowing the heartbeat and passions of a community will be the glue that keeps you drawn to their mission even when the sermon sucks and your kids have grown out of the youth program. Spiritual health is the LAST place that we should settle. If the entire goal of engaging in community is connection to the Divine, why would we glance past the things that don’t align with our own values?

Do Your Homework

It is easier to preview a community today than ever before. Their website, podcasts and social media sites will give you a great window into their values and approach to faith. Read about the foundations of the community – what bigger denomination or organizations do they align with? Read about the church history. Do they partner with global organizations, and if so, what do those organizations stand for? These seem like simple ideas, but they are very insightful. If your draw to a new community is layered in the way that their community approaches the Scripture or social justice, these are key elements to understand.  Some of this is shrouded in church speak, but look deeper. Google and some quality reading time will help you define the lingo. Another area that will give you better insight to the ideals of the community is the “joining” process. What does it take to belong? Are there certain things that you must agree with theologically? Is there a covenant that your family needs to align with? What about financial giving? Is there expected tithe that members must agree to give? Some of these things are spelled out in public forums, others are less publicly announced, but most churches have them. Ask all of the questions.

Trust What They Don’t Tell You

Perhaps your search for a new home comes from a place of recognizing that your old home no longer fits. This is a painful reality. One of the best ways to prevent the pain of connecting to an ill-fitting home is to listen to what is not being said. If the people are great {I mean really, really great} but they are avoiding the things that you know that God is calling you to engage in, that is not the home for you. If you long to be in a community that recognizes the value of women in leadership and yet there is not one woman preaching, they are telling you something. If you know that your heart comes alive in the work of racial reconciliation and yet the voices that are speaking into these issues are not a beautiful rainbow of skin tones, take note. And speaking of rainbows, if you long to be a part of a church that not only welcomes, but celebrates the humanity and full value of the LGBTQ+ community, listen. Churches that have made this choice are open in their affirmation and celebration. There is no doubt. If you do not see a statement that clearly articulates their view of sexuality, listen to the silence.  The lack of words and action and public willingness to speak up matters. It matters. 

Look to the People

During this season where many find themselves in virtual church, look at those that are refusing to sit still. Our spiritual lives did not stop when churches stopped meeting for worship. If you are intrigued by a spiritual community, look at how they are engaging with each other in this season. If the community that you explore is meeting at 100% capacity with no masks, that is a spiritual statement.  If the community is not meeting in person, is the virtual connection alive? Are they suggesting readings and ways to connect with your own soul? These things are vital in times of stress and distance. How we love and care for ourselves directly translates to how we love and care for each other. 

Trust Yourself

I giggle as I type this, because it is one of the things that I struggle with the most, but do it. Trust that the voices that you are hearing in your head about your current community are true. Trust that what you see lived out from others is their truth. If you feel uneasy, listen. If you have more questions, ask. There is nothing more honoring to the God that created you than using the intuition that is inside you. Making your home in a new place is hard, spiritual or not. But if there is one thing that this weird season has taught me, it is to listen to the voice inside that is telling me what I need. It is speaking. Perhaps, this season of slowing has finally allowed each of us the ability to hear. 


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