Oct 112009

I visited the last of my four potential probation churches today and I’m now certain I have my two out of the four. What’s no longer certain is which of the two is my preferred choice.

Today’s church was pretty local (a big plus in its favour) and the minister is someone I know fairly well. It’s pretty much a middle-of-the-road congregation, tending towards the older end of the age spectrum but with a fair smattering of other age groups as well. To be fair, it was a little difficult to get a sense of the ‘normal’ congregation because there was no Sunday school and a lot of visitors today.

I think I have previously characterised this church as a ‘safe’ choice, but that would suggest that I wouldn’t be challenged. After visiting today I realised that that would be an misrepresentation of the church and it would be ‘safe’ only in the sense that it would be a secure, welcoming and encouraging environment.

I’m now left with a difficult choice. One church would be very different to my previous experience and that would be a great opportunity to grow in other directions. The other would be a very positive experience under a supervisor who would, I think, be great to work with. My gut reaction, somewhat to my surprise, is to favour the ‘safe’ choice, but not because it’s safe, but because there is a sense of ‘rightness’ to it. But a part of me says that there is an opportunity for growth in the other as well and there is much that I find attractive in it. But I also have a sense of ‘over-reaching’ for that one. It’s difficult to explain. It’s like aspiring to something that you know isn’t entirely true to who you are. I think I said previously that my concern over visiting that particular church was that I had created an image of what it would be like. In a sense that image ‘bubble’ has been popped – but that’s not a bad thing. It means that I can now compare the two in a more realistic way.

Oh well, at least I have my shortlist to present to 121 in a few weeks and my reasons for choosing them. Deciding which one to go for though may not be entirely easy.

Sep 132009

I visited the second of my prospective probation churches today. A little bit further afield but perfectly do-able from my home. This one was very different from the first. More traditional but nevertheless keeping up with the times in many ways. Again it had a good age profile and everyone was very friendly. I felt I could easily fit in with the place and not feel that the 15 months of probation would be a burden. In many respects it comes across as your ‘typical’ parish church (and I say that in the awareness that every congregation is different, but often you will find that they are addressing the same needs, have similar organisations and so on). Its socio-economic profile is maybe a little more educated and affluent, but I’d hesitate to make that call just yet.

Of the two visited so far, this would be my preference. But then if my assessment is correct and it is a ‘typical’ parish church then it may make more sense to choose the other, more local, ‘typical’ parish church on my list. I guess I’ll need to wait and see. I may well make that one next week’s visit so that the two are relatively fresh in my mind and more easily compared. That just leave my wild-card outsider as my fourth visit. I still feel a tug towards it despite my ignorance of it and I’m wondering if I should have gone there first to see if the others then ‘measured up’. By the same token, if, when I go, I just don’t get that sense of ‘rightness’, then I’ll know that there was something in one of the others that I need to go back and find then pray over.

At least it keeps me out of mischief on Sunday mornings.