The question most asked by people at home was, "Do you know what church you will go to?"
Well, after going to 6 churches (including one from project last summer), I found my new church!
My heart for finding a church in Orlando was not necessarily to find a church that catered to my needs, but I wanted to find a place that preached Jesus, that convicted me and reminded me of how great our God is. I wanted a place that would challenge me and allow me space to grow.
With that in mind I tried many different places around Orlando, some close by, some 30 minutes away. I knew distance would not deter me. Initially I really hoped I could find a place with some fellow interns so that I felt a sense of comfort in knowing at least one other person in the church.
Initially I only went to churches that fellow interns went. From a super hipster church on Sunday nights to a church directly across from Cru Headquarters, I even went to the church the current President of Cru goes to, but I never felt a peace about the place I was going to. The churches didn't speak falsely or muddle doctrine, I just found little things quickly in the service that helped me know this was not the right church.
I really tried to not be picky about the church, because every church has flaws, and who am I to make sure a church tailors to my needs? I kept praying and hoping that the next church would just leave me with a sense that this is the church I need to go to.
After 4 churches I decided to go back to the church I loved so much last summer. It was by far the farthest distance wise, 35 minutes. And I went, saw my old project director, had lunch with his family. And really enjoyed it, by far it was the top choice.
But the week before I had talked with a close friend and she mentioned that she had heard a pastor at the last Cru Day of Prayer in the spring that was phenomenal and she believed was the senior pastor at a Presbyterian church. Also Vonette Bright, the co-founder of Cru with her husband, went to this church.
I went online to see which Presbyterian denomination it was affiliated, and found that is had been PCUSA (Presbyterian Church USA) until 2012 when they decided to be EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church). I had no clue the differences, but it did have a female pastor on staff and that appealed to me.
I decided to go to Frist Presbyterian Orlando and if this didn't work out I would end up going to Grace Church (the one I went to on project).
I was nervous because this was the first church I was going to by myself and where I honestly knew no one. I studied everything online to make sure I knew which parking garage I could park in, which church to walk into and what time the contemporary service was. It was in downtown Orlando so the travel wasn't too bad, only 20 minutes with only 4 tolls.
After being guided to the right building (yes, there are multiple buildings this church owns along with the parking garage) even though I sat by mysef, I immediately knew, this is the church I was called to. The pastor had not even preached and I knew, this is my new church home. Suffice it to say that the sermon was convicting, I happen to go the first week they were starting a series called Barefoot Church, learning how to be a disciple of Jesus when our culture calls us to look inward not outward. That Sunday they also were offering a chance after the sermon to leaarn more about FPC and learn different ways to get involved. The Lord was allowing me an opportunity to get a full picture of what this church was about in one Sunday. What a blessing!
I have gone a few Sundays at different service times to figure out if I am still convicted and challenged and I have every time. It mixes my doctrine perfectly. I have learned I am a middle of the road person not only in doctrine, but politically, pretty much every way possible. I determine a church not really by the denomination, but by the people that make up that church. EPC values women leadership in the church (and with a sister in seminary I really feel God can call women to be pastors) but it also focuses on telling people about Jesus and focusing more on the gospel and how we need it as Christians daily and how we need to share this to others. That is all that matters to me, not the "secondary doctrine" of matters that are political or not, I just know I am a sinner and I need a church to remind me not only of that, but that there is a God who wants me and values me and that I need to walk like Jesus.
I am pretty sure there are people at FPC Orlando that don't have the same doctriine, but they all love Jesus, they want to focus on Jesus, and they want to share Jesus with those in the world. And right now that is what I need.
Thank you for prayers, the Lord has answered them and given me a beautiful place to be challenged, to think, to love, and to go out and be a disciple in the world. I am excited to not only go to church at FPC, but to find opportunities in the next few weeks to get involved in various ways and become a part of this body of Christ.