Sunday, July 10, 2011

The dilemma...

Today Emma, Audrey and I went to visit a new church.  Not because we are unhappy with our old one, it is just that we are thinking of switching to one that is closer to home.  Emma gets car sick just driving around the corner - so to have her feeling unwell every single trip to church is unfair (on everyone!).

But it's just not that simple is it?

Well, today it was simple because Em, Audrey and I went as an 'advance party' to check things out.  We were able to go incognito without Ashlea - and masqueraded as average Joe's (it felt weird).  The good points for the new church are that it appears to be wheelchair accessible, and the morning tea is better :)

What it really boils down to though is that we still receive a lot of ongoing support from Gladesville.  Ashlea has a roster of people to assist her in Sunday School - people who I know and trust.  We have had - and will have again during the transplant - meals, housework help, child minding, washing folding - you name it.  I am even getting meals now 4 months out from the transplant because my bible study ladies are trying to fatten me up.

How do we start at a new church where people don't know us yet we still need this ongoing help?  At the absolute minimum we cannot attend a church that is not willing to include Ashlea in Sunday School by providing helpers.   How do you ask for that though???  We also have the transplant coming up - how can we ask people we hardly know to help us through that?

And don't even start me on the emotional wrench it will be to leave Gladesville.  Our friends at Gladesville have walked with us this whole journey.  There are people there who have known us since 'before Ashlea'.  These are the people who lived through the girls early birth with us - and have followed every step, every triumph and every setback since then.

I feel really torn.  I don't want to leave Gladesville, but the reality is that it would be really good to go to a church closer to home.   It is hard to invite people to church when it is so far away.  It's hard for the children to be involved as they don't socialise with any of the children outside of church.  We don't really socialise with anyone from Gladesville outside of church anymore.  I feel like it is time for us to make the move.

But it's just not that easy!!!

I know it is the role of a church to support its members - but it seems different when you arrive as a member needing support, rather than become a member needing support as we did with Ashlea.  There is also the whole question of timing.  Do we move now?  Do we wait until after the transplant?   I don't want to change churches just before the transplant, but I also don't want to stay at Gladesville, accept all their support, and then up and leave straight after.

So you can see why this is such a dilemma.

Any thoughts?  Words of wisdom?


Deb L said...

We moved churches at the start of this year. We waited about 2 years from when we knew we wanted to move because we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. We were travelling a fair distance and while it all made sense before we had three children, it really didn't as we kept adding more kids. We too felt out of the loop, being geographically further away, and it was obvious the kids were not going to be able to be very involved because we didn't want to travel more than once a week. It has been a real blessing this year to be located close to the people we are with on Sunday mornings. Church overflows a lot more into the week now.

So having said all that, I don't have a child with special needs or a transplant coming up! Which adds a fair lot of other issues to your situation. And whether Ashlea would be at home there and well-looked after in Sunday School is a BIG deal. Not every church would get that right.

I can tell you are thinking it's a big thing to arrive at a church as "a member needing support". But can I just say that you don't just bring your need of support. You bring all the other elements of your family as well ... your personalities and your faith and your commitment to Jesus. And you bring an opportunity for others to love you and your family. The church needs that every bit as much as another member who comes ready to be on every roster and start 7 new ministries in their first year alone. We need to serve one another. That's how it's supposed to be and how God matures us. If you do move, you will be a blessing to them as much as they will be to you.

I don't know if this helps, but we did lots of trial runs. We scheduled four visits spread out over the six months before we moved so we could check them out properly. So we felt pretty confident about moving once we actually got around to it.

It's not easy changing churches.

ferfischer said...

Ooooh. That's a toughie. We don't go to church now (I was raised in one though) and part of the reason we don't is that we show up with ALL of our needs and stuff, and I'm just not really ready to do that - although I do want a community like that for our kids (we're not Christian though a churchlike community is important). That said, I am loyal, probably to a fault. I would probably keep looking and getting ready, and not change right now. Perhaps you could visit the other church occasionally but still fully attend the other one until you're ready to make the full switch. I kind of think that you'll know the right time when it comes. But, with the transplant coming up, I would probably wait a year and then make a serious switch.

Sarah said...

Personally I would be inclined to stay with the one your already with even though it's further, mainly as they know your situation already and with only a few months til transplant I would want no more added stress of trying to get to know new people right now.

Maybe that is just me though, you may feel completely different.

Alison said...

Thanks for your comments - especially you Deb as you have obviously 'been there done that' recently.

We are going back this Sunday to meet with the minister and chat about if it could work for us. Realistically though it will be a slow process as Gladesville will still be our main support through the transplant.

Alice said...

I'm a bit late here but have some recent experience. We were at the small plant from our church for 18mo but have just moved back.

I have no brilliant answers but these are things I've learnt:

- being unhappy at church is awful.
- be open about what level of support you really need and find out whether the new church can and will supply it with grace and love! There's nothing like begrudging help! It's also so easy to try to make it all sound easier than it is!
- having to do more of the hands-on stuff with our son at church isn't bad when we're feeling loved, supported and 'fed' in other areas.
- we went back to our old church feeling like burdens. Feeling that hsving a child with a disability was just too hard a thing to present to s new church. Feeling like everyone had friends already and that we weren't needed. But we feel loved and accepted in ways that have built us up so much!
- voice your feelings to the leaders, they won't be as hurt as you think!

I know it's a different situation, in that your current church is lovely and sounds incredibly helpful. There are tonnes of reasons to stay but sometimes change isn't as terrible as it seems! Feel free to get in touch if you want a sounding-board. It's a heart wrenching thing. I'll pray for you. X