It's been about a year now since we merged with another church congregation.
An interesting thing about this new church is that I would describe the majority of the members as introverted. A few people have actually come out and said that they don't want/don't like new people. You might think that sounds funny coming from Christians, but you have to give some points for straightforwardness. Tight-knit church fellowships can be very inward-focused as we seek to strengthen relationships.
When we were in talks to join our churches, along with the anti-social comments were several declarations that the other church hated "projects."
So, I guess in general you could say that we are drama-free. And that's probably a good environment for healing from the trauma that we've experienced in separating from our former church family.
Andrei and the pastor share preaching responsibilities, and I think that's been a relief for both of them. Both of our families have experienced crises in the past year, and the church has been supportive. A few months ago the pastor's daughter was healing from an injury, and Andrei preached for several Sundays without a break. But nowadays he doesn't even mind preparing a sermon at the last minute, because he is no longer needing to make decisions left and right regarding the church's future. When I was in the hospital, the pastor stepped in and Andrei was not obligated to do anything during that time of need.
The other men in the church can lead according to the Order of Worship, appointing readers depending on who is present. One man leads us in prayer for specific nations, doing a mini-presentation while reading from his phone. When the format itself is not an issue, there is room to devote attention to other matters.
There is no "Coffee Hour" ministry, but tea and coffee are ALWAYS served. Sometimes people bring treats, and other times we have to run down the street 3 times for cups, bottled water, or a package of cookies. It could be more organized, but no one makes a fuss.
There is no music ministry, right now. More on that in another post.
There is no Sunday school. We currently have a little room for the kids and I've brought some art supplies. It is a time to pray and think about how to include children in the Sunday gathering, not just appoint a Sunday school teacher for the sake of checking a box.
It takes a long time to get to know people. I have new friends now in the new church, but it takes work to go deeper. The Holy Spirit unites, but it's a process, not something that happens quickly.
Interestingly, many members have spouses who are either non-believers or feel closer to a different confession, such as Russian Orthodoxy. I have gotten to know some of these people as we watch the kids together. Many say that they come for the sermon as they find it relatable. It's encouraging that even visitors can recognize sound teaching. May the Word take root! Where does the ministry happen? In our church service; in our jobs and volunteer opportunities; in our time with friends and family who also need the Lord.