I thought Saturday was going to be a relatively relaxed evening. Not that it wasn’t but I most certainly wasn’t expecting the conversation that hubby and I had to occur. It was actually a conversation that needed to be had in full, one of the reasons I was silently resenting my spouse: church.
Hubby and I are both Baptist Christians, so I never thought there would be an issue. It’s not like I’m Muslim and he’s Catholic, or I’m Buddhist and he’s Jewish. I just assumed (we already know what that does) that we were pretty much on the same page. We both believe in God. We both read the Bible. What’s the big deal? Well, I grew up in a missionary Baptist church. He grew up in a primitive Baptist church. Before dating him, I had no idea what it was, but I would soon find out.
I started going to church with hubby about 6 months after we started dating. I didn’t know what to expect so I couldn’t exactly prepare myself. I asked him questions and he explained some things to me, but I’d find out that missionary and primitive Baptists have two very different types of services. At his church, there are no instruments. There’s singing of hymns from hymn books, but no choir, just the congregation. We’re the youngest attendees. The church is very small, and most of the members are over 55, including the pastor. There’s about 45 minutes of singing hymns, there’s fellowship of shaking hands, prayers, and then the sermon. After everything’s done, they take up collection.
At my church, it’s a bit different. The day I was baptized, our pastor passed on the reigns to his son, who at the time was the junior pastor. He’s much younger, and come to find out, he mentored at my hubby’s school growing up. There’s several choirs and ministries. We have an organist, a drummer, a guitar player. There’s hundreds of members, and the ages range from 3-90 or something like that. There’s announcements, several song selections, tithes & offering, maybe a performance from one of the ministries, and the sermon. This is what I’ve grown up with since before I was able to walk and talk. So it’s safe to say it was a bit of a culture shock.
I went to hubby church with him regularly, especially after there were some things I did not agree with my pastor on in his personal life. However, I never really got used to it. As of late, it’s really been weighing heavily on me since I’ve been regularly and hubby’s only been to my church twice. So Saturday when he asked me if I would go to church with him the following day, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to bring up the discussion. It was a bit heated, but not an argument. I said I wasn’t being spiritually fed at his church (I didn’t feel like I was) and didn’t think it was fair that he expected me to continue to give his church a try when he only went to my church twice. He claimed he has personal issues with my pastor and how he operates, and doesn’t believe he’s following the Bible how his church is.
We went back and forth, forth and back, for about an hour. He brought up scriptures, since he’s read the Bible cover to cover before, and I just brought up my feelings. I’m still on a spiritual journey, trying to figure out what is and what isn’t. I’ve yet to read the entire Bible, or even half for that matter. He felt like I was being negative. I felt like he was being self-righteous. It was a draining discussion. He asked me to keep an open mind. I asked him to be patient and not expect me to join right away, if at all.
I ended up going to church with him the next morning, praying to God for an open mind and heart. I connected with the message, and encouraged myself to stay focused. I decided to work on a Bible plan that will allow me to read the entire thing in a year. Will I go every Sunday? No. Not until I figure out if it’s really a commitment I will make. Until then, I’ll be a visitor.
Are you and your spouse on the same page religiously? If not, is it a problem in your relationship?
My wife had the same discomfort (we’ll call it) with joining my church. She came from one of the huge Pentecostal churchs in our city. I attended a small, but lively, baptist church in the suburbs. Since I was in leadership, and I too had personal issues with her church, I was not going to join her church; thus she visited mine. But she didn’t want to join, and I wasn’t going to force her. At the same time, I didn’t want to fall into the same trap Adam fell into by following his wife, Eve, by eating the fruit rather than leading her away from the crafty cunnings of the serpent. In other words, I was trying to lead and take direction from the God where we would eventually worship instead of allowing her to lead and determine where we would worship.
Being a new loving husband, I considered finding another church that we both liked. But the Lord did not give me a release to go anywhere else. So I made the decision for both of us to stay at my church. Going to two different churches was not an option for us. I’m not saying my view is Theology or a theological principle, but I had (& still have) a conviction that a couple shouldn’t go to two different churches because there will be two pastors (i.e., spiritual heads) giving spiritual leadership to one family. In my view, that family is submitting to multiple spiritual visions for one household. And that, to me, is ‘di-vision’.
I still didn’t try to force or convice my wife join when I decided we were staying. I left it up to the Holy Spirit to do that work. And he did. About 6 months after we were married, my wife went to her old church where TD Jakes was preaching at a mid-week revival service. In his sermon, he said something (I don’t know what) and the Holy Spirit gave her a peace about joining my church. She came home and told me about it and said she was going to join. That Sunday, she joined my…our church.
The real blessing of her joining was to the benefit of the church. She became the praise & worship leader and sang that good ole Penecostal style singing in our little ole Baptist church. She mentored many younger woman, and mentored single women her age that were dating, engaged, or newly married women. She was overall a great blessing to the church. Had she not joined, even though she really didn’t want to, all the women’s lives she touched, as well as the congregation with her singing, would not have received what God put in her to provide.
So as you ponder and consider whether to join hubby’s church, keep on the forefront of your musings that God placed you here for a specific reason; and that specific reason is inevitably to help somebody do something. Moreover, He now brought you and hubby together so the two of you can actually fulfill that ‘specific reason (i.e., He create you to do something, then He united you and hubby together to do it). So the two of you must pursue that ‘specific reason’ together, whatever it is.
So instead on focusing on whether to join his church, focus on finding out what that specific reason is – why He brough you two together and how to go about fulfilling it. Therein lies the path both of you should take. And who knows, that path might lead you both to another church that neither one of you ever expected.
For us, after she joined, that ‘specific reason’ had us stay at our church for 11 more years. And everything we learned on that path equipped us to help a friend start a small church outside the city. Now having been on this path for 3 years, I’m feeling the rumblings of another change coming. Although I don’t know precisely what or where or even when, I am, with all diligence, still pursing the ‘specific reason’ why He created me and brought me and my wife together. For therein lies the path both of us will take. And this path has lead me to responding to your post on your blog.
ps. Here is me and my wifes path http://www.familybootcamp.com.
Honestly, I think you two should find your own church together. It’s not really fair that you have to become a member at his or that he has to become a member at yours. If thats the issue, I say cut you’re loses and find a church that you both can be comfortable with. My husband a I came from two different types of spiritual bringing. And the bible say the Husband is the head BUT he also has to make sure you’re comfortable with is decision. So why dont yall take some time and shop around at a few churches. See if yall can come to an agreement that way.