Change…a first visit to South Main

May 15, 2014

ImageBy South Main Member Erin DuBroc

I’ve always been a lover of change.  There were no tears from me on the last day of high school — I was already half-way to College Station in my heart and mind.  Even at the conclusion of those college days my Dad told me would encompass “the best time of [my] life”, I couldn’t wait to start graduate school and get a move on.  That isn’t to say that I don’t value loyalty or enjoy nostalgia, but rarely have I experienced fear over changing circumstances.  Although, recently I started to wonder if that was wholly good.  Darn that desire to practice more self-awareness in my thirties.  

For me, change is almost always partnered with an intoxicating novelty I tend to bask in.  Novelty, that I’ve just begun to see, can do a number on my already handicapped ability to be objective.  Not that I never suffer from cynicism, but it’s not often my vice when presented with new people, a new order or way of doing things, or even a blank slate from which to create.  I usually approach change with, I admit, a fair amount of naiveté and blissful enthusiasm.  This is slightly different from my husband, of course.  How else would iron sharpen iron, right?

For example, the first Sunday we visited a new church — that I had already researched and read up on, of course — I was quickly overwhelmed with giddiness.  Rightfully so as many of the aspects of church I had deemed non-negotiable moving forward were playing out in this beautiful harmony right in front of me and to a degree I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever find in Houston.  (See, I do suffer from some cynicism.)

Between the condensed size of the congregation, inclusion of women in every aspect of the service and church leadership, emphasis on slower, more contemplative worship, and the mention of a book by one of my favorite authors being the congregational devotional for Lent (oh, and the recognition of the liturgical calendar!),  I was beside myself.  I probably teared up with joy nine times, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.  I was not hallucinating, I was affirmed in my convictions (as opposed to feeling like an outsider, troublemaker and quasi-heretic), and that was only the first ten minutes.

The inclusion of children’s church, the thoughtful recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, the singing of the doxology, the heartfelt congregational responses to celebrations like baptism and infant dedications, the beyond-impressive number of unprompted welcomes we received from various members, and the fact that the pastor greeted us on our way out and said “let’s get lunch sometime”, nearly pushed me over my emotional limit.  On a scale of one to ten with my wedding day being a ten, I was probably at an 8.5.  I wish I could bottle that kind of enthusiasm and sell it.  If only, Shark Tank.

But if you were to look over to my husband during those first ten minutes, you’d see a more reserved portrait of a person vacillating between open-mindedness and nervous tics.  We were definitely on the same page regarding our desires for church, but our outward appearances and processing methods were polar opposite.  His right knee couldn’t stop bouncing, his eyes were slightly wide and his body a bit shifty sitting amidst the wooden pews, cathedral ceiling and breathtaking stained glass.  He couldn’t have been more supportive of my curiosity of this newly discovered egalitarian baptist church a mere fifteen minutes from our front door, but the man isn’t as much of a lover of change.  He analyzes first and feels later, is admittedly more pessimistic than me, and plays the role of devil’s advocate very well.  His overall attitude couldn’t be more gracious, but he’s a harder sell overall.  This used to drive me crazy and prompt a lecture about him being a stick-in-the-mud, but I’ve really learned to appreciate this aspect of his personality.

The balance his perspective brings challenges me to temper my assessment of newness with little less emotion and a bit more objectivity.  I’ve come to understand that’s not a proverbial wet blanket at all but rather a strength.   Plus, it leads to a lot less disappointment if something doesn’t end up being as perfect as those first few glances deem.  Thankfully, our marriage has been thriving despite this difference between us, and it’s been a real testament to our commitment to being true and mutually submissive partners.

If I’m perfectly honest, though, I have to make note of the fact that the type of change I love is usually the kind I can anticipate or control.  I don’t know many people who thrive on being blind-sided, so I’m sure this perfectly normal.  However, how I choose to respond to abrupt change is what I’ve also been working to improve.  Constructive coping skills don’t naturally bubble up when my expectations are challenged, and I’m tired of paying the price for poor ones.  Between the inevitable disappointments in relationships, the flat-out crazy throes of newborn-hood (which I can still remember and anticipate, even four years later), and minding the delicate balance between personal preference and compromise with my husband for the greater good of our family, it’s a worthy, if not crucial, endeavor.  Change, tumult, and sheer surprise will be recurrent companions as I journey through life, that’s for sure.


A Saturday Well Spent: Discovery Day, October 6!

October 2, 2012

ImageBy Kyle Barsch

Kelly and I had the privilege of participating in Discovery Day back in April 2012. To be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly why I should attend. Did I have a spiritual gift, or how would I actually use one if I did? I could not have been more wrong.

The entire experience was eye opening, and I got far more out of the day than I could have imagined. I would urge everyone to attend if you haven’t previously had the opportunity. It’s an excellent time to learn more about yourself, your gifts, and how you can make an impact at South Main while growing the Kingdom.

For us, it was a great opportunity for discussion and fellowship with our church family.

A Saturday well spent!

 

Kyle and Kelly Barsch are South Main Members who teach Financial Peace University and Preschool Sunday School. They are proud parents of Eileen (3) and newborn baby Evan.


Thinking about worship

May 1, 2011

By Melissa Scott, South Main Member

Melissa Scott is currently living abroad in Doha, Qatar with her family. This was reprinted by her permission from her family blog post on March 31, 2011.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about worship.

Actually, I’ve having a little bit of an internal struggle about it. We are attending a church here in Doha and to be honest, the worship style is a little bit hard for me. It’s very contemporary – different in every way from what we are used to in Houston at South Main Baptist Church, and even before that. The worship is led by rotating teams, a different leader each week. I think I understand contemporary worship – that it’s meant to be very organic and emotional. I appreciate the poetic song texts and the rock/pop style and I also appreciate that lots of different kinds of musicians can be a part of it and the whole congregation can participate.

That’s all good stuff. But – in the end it just doesn’t move me. It’s hard for me to connect – too much noise, it sounds too forced and unintentional, and I just don’t ever feel I’m a part of it. I find myself tuning out, watching the time, and kind of retreating into my own thoughts – blocking it out and waiting for it to be over. Trying to fix my face into a relaxed expression rather than a pinched wince. Why is that? I’m not sure, but here’s a little excerpt from a devotional I read recently:

These Are My Gifts

I am opening the treasure of my heart to look for gifts to give you, my King. My offerings reflect the ways I worship you in the everyday. Love for my family. Kindness to others. Help in the face of need. Faith in the future. Trust through doubt. Lord, please accept these responses as they reflect my deep affection for You.

From One – Minute Devotions for Women by Hope Lyda

Though the devotion is about gifts and what we can offer up to God in our daily lives – I still feel there’s a message for me written in the text about worship. I have to sit with the idea that worship isn’t about a style or even a specific 15-minute window during each week. Worship is about responding and honoring God every minute. To say I don’t connect with a certain style of worship is to say I’m not really seeking to connect with God. That is very convicting for me. And, if I have any gifts to offer – aren’t they gifts of music? What am I doing exactly – sitting in chairs and waiting for the 15 minutes to pass each Friday during the service? How does that fit into any sort of obedience to God’s call on my life? What does it say about my deep devotion for Christ?

So it was already on my mind and then I got an email from my church specifically about worship. A few years ago I participated in a committee. We were asked to take a critical look at worship at the church we attend in Houston. I visited several other congregations – listened to their worship services and we spent long hours talking within the committee about what was good, maybe not so good, and how it all fits with the vision and church culture at South Main. It was a task force of sorts – focused on examining and thinking about what worship means to that congregation and how we could make it meaningful each week.

As I reread the report, I was quickly reminded that the act of worship is not about me. It’s not about getting something. It’s about what we each give to God in every moment.

What does it matter how I think a worship service should look, feel, and sound? It’s more about what we offer up to the God who makes all things new. Intentional worship is about taking time weekly to attend to your relationship with God. To refocus and remind ourselves that we are called to be different, that we have decided to follow Jesus, and that the stuff of life that takes such a front and center place in our thinking may not be what God wants us to focus on. So, I’m trying to step over my opinions and preferences and my need to have things feel like home, and into a place of obedience and renewal. God has brought us here to Doha for a reason (or several reasons), and I believe that every part of the experience has the ability to teach and grow us.

This verse helps crystalize that idea for me:

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2

I’m also trying to remember that in working to honor God in the way I care for the girls and my students, in offering friendship and encouragement to an expat friend, and in continuing to build a strong relationship with Steve – I am in a way worshiping. I’m offering my best to God and showing my deep devotion to Him. Through love, kindness, help, faith, and trust I am honoring God. Or trying to, at least. These are some of the thoughts that are holding my attention these days. I can’t promise that when next Friday morning rolls around I won’t be struggling, but I will be hoping for renewal and for a fresh perspective. Maybe one of these Sundays there will be an opportunity for me to lead worship and I’ll be able to embrace it and follow God’s call through it.

I’m trying to keep moving in that direction.

#innerloopchurch