**Note: This is an evangelical post. Feel free to skip it if you prefer to avoid all the church talk.**
One of the great adventures of moving, when one is a Christ-follower, is the search for a new community to worship with. I affectionately call the experience "church-shopping." It is a weird dynamic between finding a place where one can feel welcome and feel as though he/she belongs, and also one where the individual can share some commonalities, theologically-speaking, with others in the worship community while still leaving room to be challenged.
When Hubbs and I moved, we knew what we were looking for in a church home, and we were cognizant of the fact that it would potentially take us months before we would find the "perfect fit" for us. He has some preferences when it comes to the singing, I have preferences when it comes to the theology (as evidenced in a church's statement of faith), and we both have strong and particular preferences when it comes to the teaching and preaching.
So, as the diligent (some say obsessive-compulsive) Googler that I am, I started our church-shop online. I found a dozen or so churches that seemed to be reasonably close to us in proximity, and began combing through their respective websites to see where they stood on the theological spectrum between uber-liberal and uber-conservative. When I had narrowed the church choices down to a "Top 3," I picked the one that had the hippest website (superficial, I know...don't judge) and best write-ups, and decided that Hubbs and I would visit that one first.
Well, we've now attended that church twice, and we have no plans to go elsewhere. We've already (thankfully) found a place of worship in this particular community of believers, and we are overjoyed. A divine hand obviously led us to this place, since it exceeds all of Hubbs' and my expectations, and is so spiritually satisfying and encouraging that it excites us to return week after week. This is a refreshing change of pace for me, in particular, since I have not felt such a sense of renewal and revival in many months.
In attending this ministry (a word they often use to describe themselves), one thing has become wholly evident to me, and that is this: people are spiritually hungry and thirsty and long to be nourished with Truth. I see this as I look around the packed theatre in which we congregate. Hundreds of younger people (ages 20-30), Generation Y hipsters and urbanites, come together every week to hear the pastor teach straight from the Bible. We're not talking about seeker-sensitive topical preaching, either. This is no "What Would Jesus Say to Britney Spears" sort of series. There are no blatant references to pop culture, and no gratuitous use of movie clips or music videos. There are no frills and fireworks, no gimmicks or fluffy feel-good messages designed for those with the most minimal understanding of the Word.
Instead, there is a Bible, and a pastor with a microphone. There are exegetical explanations of the context of passages, and verse-by-verse explanations and discussions about the debates surrounding certain phrases and word choices. There are references to original Greek and Hebrew words, and there are heavy questions and challenges posed by both the text and the teacher. There is no "dumbing-down" of Scripture, but rather a thoughtful and intellectual approach to its study. The pastor assumes the intelligence and critical thinking of his audience, rather than presume their ignorance and inability to read the Bible on their own.
And these young hip urban Christ-followers come back, week after week, to be fed and to be led spiritually by their pastor into an academic and spiritual examination of Scripture as it has been revealed. The unwavering adherence to the Bible, and the willingness to engage in a detailed exploration of its Truth hold incredible appeal for Hubbs and I. We are thankful that we have found a worship community that is authentically interested in the Word and in seriously considering its content, both as it applied in its historical context and as it applies to us today. We are energized by the young people who worship around us, and we are encouraged by the hunger and thirst of a "lost generation" of Gen Y'ers who are less interested in blind faith and church-as-routine than in genuine faith and authentic living reflecting a pursuit of Truth.