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      Visiting Church on Vacation – 5 Reasons To Visit A Different Church This Summer

      We were gone for two Sundays while we were away on vacation which meant we missed church at our home church two weeks in a row.  It would have been easy to skip church all together and simply enjoy the time to relax.  But we didn’t exactly do this.

      The first Sunday we were away, we visited my brother’s church, Milwaukee Mennonite Church, in Wisconsin.  The church meets at 4 PM on Sunday afternoons in the building of a local Lutheran church.  It’s a small family oriented congregation where we felt very welcome.  It was definitely a different experience than we are used to at our church, but the change was okay.  It was exciting to see how God was working in this community of believers.  The singing part of worship included a couple of songs in a capella followed  by a couple with piano accompaniment.  They do not have a paid pastor, so the preaching duty is shared by the congregation.  Following the sermon, there is a time of open reflection by those in a church.  It was a little uncomfortable at first, but it was interesting especially once I understood what was going on.  Leanne and I both commented that it felt like a small group.

      The second weekend we were away, we actually went to church on Saturday night at Charter Oak Church (where we were married 17 years earlier).  This is a growing United Methodist congregation which is clearly trying to find ways to reach the community.  The singing part of worship featured several guitars, a drummer, a keyboard, and a few lead vocalists.  It was so cool to witness a couple of baptisms while we were there.  There was a watering trough on the stage filled with water on the stage or platform.  The pastor knelt beside the trough while those being baptized took turns getting into the tank to be immersed by the pastor.  I really enjoyed the sermon at this church which was themed based on the popular NBC TV show, The Voice.  The sermon started with a Francis Chan video clip that I’ve included in past blog posts.  I really appreciated the way the pastor used the YouVersion Live feature to go along with his sermon.  I was able to take notes and look up Bible passages from my iPhone.  We received a friendly reception at this church as well.

      Visiting other churches can be a very healthy experience while you are on vacation.  Here are five reasons for visiting churches while on vacation:

      1. Observing church differences helps us to understand where other people are coming from.  Churches are different.  While we worship the same God, there are different styles.
      2. Churches have different creative ideas that could be the catalyst for change in your own church.  It can be very refreshing and encouraging to experience worship by other bodies of believers.  It provides new ideas that will stretch you.
      3. Sometimes you need to take a break from your normal church.  I wouldn’t recommend this for an extended period of time.  But visiting other churches can give you a break and a recharge especially if you are heavily involved with volunteering, serving, or leading in your own church.
      4. It’s healthy to bond with other believers.  There is so much that divides the church today.  There are so many different doctrines, theologies, and ideas that simply tear the greater church body apart.  Visiting other churches helps to bridge the divide that can be so divisive.  (Obviously, I think that theology is important, but we need to be cautious in how we let it divide the church.  To the outside world, we must look like a bunch of messed up hypocrites who don’t have any unity.)
      5. Visiting other churches helps you appreciate your own church.  Let’s face it; we all get our level of comfort.  There’s no place like home (or our home church).  Upon our return home, our daughter couldn’t wait to get home so she could make it to youth group at our church.

      I don’t know what your vacation plans are this summer.  Maybe your sticking at home or maybe you’re traveling to far away lands.  I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to visit a different church this summer.  When you do this, let me know how it went.

      Do you visit other churches when you travel?  Tell us about your last experience at a different church.  Why do you think it is (or isn’t) a good idea to visit other churches from time to time?