a home at tinker's creek

Ever since Mars Hill Church fell apart my relationship with church has been struggling. I looked around with a couple friends from Mars Hill, eventually finding one temporarily but then after some life changes I ended up being away from that church and group of people. The years after that had a sprinkling of attempts at attending a church by myself, one of which I enjoyed but it was a far drive, ultimately ending with my life getting so busy that I just stopped attending or trying to go. Not out of ill will or intention but rather out of a lack of connection with one or anyone at a church. It bothered me. But not because I felt like I had to go.

I missed hearing a good sermon. Partaking in communion. Being encouraged with the gospel. I was never one to feel guilty about missing church. Over the years I’ve heard numerous pleas Christians make about the seriousness of attending church but I usually blow it off -- it often comes with a side of lack of understanding for the reality of life for some people. I do understand the importance of community though. And that was missing even moreso when we moved to Ohio a couple years back.

We knew nobody. A couple guys at work were from my other branch in California but I wasn’t close with them. We were alone, which fed my hunger for a church even more. But with the struggle of raising our son and sleep training him, we found ourselves utterly exhausted and incapable of even beginning to look for a church. Then we started the process of finding a house and next we got pregnant again. My wife was constantly sick -- not to mention the pandemic which was going on through all of this. Some churches weren’t meeting or they weren’t doing the nursery which automatically checked us out. We were not going to sit in service with crazy Cashy.

While my wife was pregnant we decided to give it a shot. We tried an Episcopalian church but were let down a bit with it. I was excited because most of the theologians and writers I like are either Episcopalian or Anglican and I had high hopes. Unfortunately, the church was extremely tiny and only had old people. The nursery consisted of the lady in charge and her two kids who were almost seven years older than Cashy. Then the preacher brought politics and pandemic stuff into the sermon which I wasn’t a fan of. Not that it went one way or the other on the spectrum but in general I’m not a fan of mixing the two. Give me the good news of Christ or nothing at all. So we ixnayed that one.

The following week we tried the complete opposite vibe. A megachurch. Normally I’m opposed to such institutions but I had a family now and we were genuinely struggling to find a church with an operating nursery for Cashy. So we gave it a shot. Walking around the building gave me flashbacks to the church I grew up going to. It gave me a sense or normalcy. Although, one could argue there is nothing normal about a coffee shop within a church. But one look at their freshly baked cookies and all my arguments against a megachurch went out the window. And most importantly, they also had an organized, thriving childcare program. Cashy ran right into his room and had a blast playing with the other kids. This was difficult to argue against. Sure, the message was a bit watered down and basic. But perhaps we could find comfort in a megachurch.

The following day our son got sick and we worried about COVID, thus sending us in retreat from church once again. And then months later, our daughter was born. So, we were obviously incredibly tied up. But now, our daughter being five months old, we were ready to get back out on the market. The church market, that is.

The Chapel at Tinker’s Creek is a small church around the corner from our house. It’s literally a two to three minute drive from us. It was a church we originally looked into months before but they had no nursery available at the time so we crossed it off the list. They were having a rib cook out for the city and we decided to go and give it a look. Lo and behold we found ourselves sitting with the pastor and had a great time talking to a lot of the elderly folk who told us stories of the city’s past and not so rich history. It is Streetsboro, OH after all.

We attended the following Sunday and have been going since for the past three weeks. I think we’ve found a church home. Which gives me great joy, it’s been quite some time. It feels great to be with a small community and getting together each week to hear the good news preached. Partaking in communion is something I missed dearly. There’s something about the entire ritual that is comforting to me.

Something feels right about the church. Which means a lot coming from me. If you knew how I was long ago, you’d likely agree. I’m the type to listen to a couple sermons of a church before we even give a try. I try to relay the way I am in comparison to a film degree student critiquing every movie he sees. Unintentionally. It happens out of habit or nature. The same with me and my biblical studies degree. I can’t help but listen for certain words or styles to flag me on what theology said pastor holds to. If it isn’t what I hold to then I pound the gavel and pronounce a judgment. Sick, I know. But my experience here so far has been attempting to let that go and receive whatever it is the pastor decides to preach. My wife even had to correct me as I began belittling the way church folk were going to be trying to bait and switch us at the rib cook out. She aptly pointed out how I was ruining her experience and tainting her thoughts on the church. Yuck. Not who I want to be.

The pastor is best described as cool, calm and collected. He’s chill. No attempts at trying to be the “cool pastor” or “hip”. He seems to genuinely be himself. Who would've thought, right? And it just so happens his self is similar to mine. This month he launched a sermon series on movies. We are watching a movie on the lawn at church on Friday then dissecting it theologically on Sunday. That’s my bag. Essentially with what I do at Mockingbird with music, books and culture in general in addition to movies. In fact, the pastor actually added me on Facebook and even went and read one of my articles on Mockingbird. He actually commented and interacted with my words which I must say, my ego appreciated.

All this to say, I’m glad to be back at a church. Not because it will give structure to my kids. Not because it will instill some sense of morality or whatever people assume others go to church for. Not because it’s what “good” people do. Not because of guilt. But because of the good news revealed through the preacher’s words, the church body and of course, the bread and the wine. And most importantly, the free childcare for an hour and half every week. We need to be focused. After all, it is the Lord's day, right?

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