A few Sunday’s ago we decided to join Addy and her family at their church for morning worship. I’ve often wondered what her church was like, so I had asked if we could visit with them sometime, and Addy seemed very happy to have us come. I knew their church was a small country one, but I was really surprised by how very different it was from ours.
Addy and her family are the most faithful church goers I’ve ever met in my life. They are the kind of people who are there every time the doors are open. If they miss a church service, people are calling and knocking on their door making sure that they are alright. Their faithfulness has really convicted me of my own church attendance. We tend to stay home in bad weather, and hardly ever go other than for Sunday morning service. I know we need more.
Both her and her husband are active members in the church; he teaches children’s church, she sings in the choir and teaches a women’s Bible study. The morning we came to visit, Addy’s husband was teaching his class, and Addy and her kids were helping, so we decided to hang out with them down stairs in their Sunday school room.
As we entered the downstairs area, I immediately noticed that there was no sort of security check-in to get to the children’s classroom. Our church has a strict check in point, and they issue a number for each child at every service so that only a parent can pick them up again. I guess everyone knows everyone well enough at this church that they don’t need all that.
It was funny watching her husband teaching and interacting with the kids. You can tell he really loves them. I’d never seen him so dressed up before, in dress pants and a tie. His hat was missing, and his long white-gray beard was nice and combed. Addy looked pretty in her very modest dress, and her long hair was brushed out and hanging down her back.
Jada found an empty seat and joined in the class while me and Jerry helped Addy set up snacks for after their lesson. I was surprised to find that the snack they were serving was chocolate chip cookies and soda. At our church the kids are served water and organic cookies. I was glad that I had brought a healthier snack for Titus to munch, but I let Jada join the others not wanting her to feel left out.
I couldn’t help but notice how “country” all of the kids were. None of them were very dressed up, though it looked as if they had on their best set of clothes. And when they yelled out an answer it was hard to understand what they said at times because of their thick southern accents. I wondered what my Jada thought of all this. I couldn’t help laughing when I noticed she would cover her ears every time the children would shout. Still, she sat nicely in her chair and just looked around at everyone.
After the class was over, and all of the children had filed out the door we helped straighten the room up. Then my family and Addy’s all stood around and talked for a while. Addy’s daughter invited us to come home with them to eat lunch, but I didn’t want to impose so I politely declined. I knew Addy hadn’t planning on company. Addy was quick to invite us to the evening service, so we agreed to come. We never go to church on Sunday evenings, but I really wanted to see what the actual service was like, since we’d missed Sunday morning service.
So, that evening we headed back. This time we were all upstairs in the sanctuary. We were running a little late, as usual, and sneaked into the pew with Addy’s husband while the choir was still singing. Addy and her daughter were up in the choir singing, and their son ushered.
My Titus sat smiling at Addy’s husband, who grinned back at him from behind his long beard. As I looked around I was immediately struck by the contrasts between this church and ours. We attend a much bigger, much more contemporary church. People come dressed in casual clothes; shorts and flip flops if they want. But this church was very traditional, men wore suits and women wore dresses. I was glad I’d worn a skirt.
The choir sang southern gospel music, in a group that didn’t seem to be organized in any particular way. They sure sang from their hearts though! At our church we have a praise band, with guitars, drums and tambourines, singing upbeat contemporary Christian music through a PA system; and overhead screens with the lyrics to sing along to. Addy’s church also sang hymns from the hymnal, with only an old piano to accompany the congregation’s voices. It had been many years since I’d picked up a hymnal to sing from. And like a good Baptist church, they sang like all four verses of each hymn.
The preacher was an older man, who spoke softly. I was a little embarrassed when he asked everyone to open their Bible’s to the scripture he would be reading from. See, we hadn’t brought a Bible. We are so used to the passage being displayed up on the overhead screens, that we never bring our own Bibles to church anymore. So, we sat like heathens with no Bibles. I felt kinda convicted that we ought to be reading from the Word and not a screen during church anyways.
The message was surprisingly short, and the service was over quickly. We did hang out for quite a while after church though. Lots of older women came up to me and Addy introduced me to them. They said they’d heard a lot about me, which made me wonder, of course, what Addy has said about this city girl! Everyone was so friendly, and invited us back to visit again.
We were the last ones to leave the church. Addy said that they are always the first ones to get there, and the last to leave. We really enjoyed hanging out and talking with everyone. The service was a very different style than ours, but it was a nice change. It felt very… genuine. It made me wish I knew more people at our church; ours isn’t like a family like Addy’s church is.
The style may not have been ours (I know we stuck out like sore thumbs!), but the warmth and togetherness of their church was something that I have missed. I’m glad we got a chance to experience worship the way that Addy and her family do every Sunday.