Finding Community [Part 2]
- April 12, 2021
- Sage Blalock
Last time, I detailed my journey from spiritual community to spiritual community from Sevierville, TN to Columbus, OH. I left off with the somewhat ominous and vague “and then came real life.” That may sound a bit dramatic but that’s because, for me at least, it was.
In the months between graduation from divinity school and moving to Ohio, I struggled with the fear that I didn’t know how to work, just how to get through school. After seven years of college with only a few odd, minimum-wage jobs along the way, it felt like a real question to which the answer may well have been “no.” Thankfully, finding and holding down that job for nearly two years dispelled that notion within me.
But that still left Jamie and I in a new place six hours away from our families with no church community and no prior connections (outside of Jamie’s aunt who lives an hour away). Without a program to push me towards a church for an internship, we were largely left to our own devices in finding a new church home. That meant a lot of googling and, of course, church hopping.
Church hopping, for those unfamiliar with the term, is jumping from church to church trying to find the right fit. It’s a flawed process that I wouldn’t recommend. The only problem is that when you don’t know anyone in an area, it’s difficult to do it any other way. A local church can only become the right fit when we plug in and put down roots in the community. It will never just feel perfect right off the bat. Even if it does feel that way at first, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The number one reason I would say church hopping isn’t the best route to take is because it hurts.
We would try out a church for a week or three. One of us would like the message, the style of worship, and/or the theology but the other didn’t. So it went with maybe a dozen different churches. We even thought we had one once but, after a half dozen trips, we could tell it didn’t have the full, rich theological foundation we needed.
And then COVID-19 happened. Our search was placed on a very long pause in part because there were no in-person services to test out and partially due to our own exhaustion with the process. At the time, the Bite Size Theology podcast was still going strong, so I had some form of community, albeit a very distant one. But that didn’t last.
Around the end of 2020, the podcast ended, taking with it virtually my only communal connection to my faith. I had to mourn that in a very real sense for a month or so. But once that season had passed, Jamie reminded me that we both needed to get connected as soon as possible. I can only speak for myself, but I hadn’t felt as far from God then as I had in years.
That is until we got online, found an Acts 29 church near us (here is the site so you can see why), and signed up for a small group. It was strange at first, primarily the Zoom part of it all. As a one-liner type of guy in social settings, it’s hard to know when to jump in with that awesome League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reference before the moment passes. But we did it anyway. And I’m finding my spots now. It’s nice to make people laugh again. That’s one of the passions God gave me. This group reminded me of that and, more importantly, of the One who put that in me.