This morning, as I lie in bed, I feel restless thinking about the church visits I want to make today. It’s Sunday morning, October 7. Usually we have our regular church service at 9:00 AM, but it’s general conference weekend, when we get to stay home and essentially watch church on TV. We’re hearing from the leaders of the church from Salt Lake, something that happens twice a year in April and October. We’ve just had the first day of conference yesterday, in which we heard the momentous announcement that, effective January 2019, the duration of church services will be reduced from three hours to two. According to the announcement, this will offer us more opportunity to be home with our families to teach and discuss the gospel in a way that’s tailored to our own unique needs.
This is a great new development in my opinion, something I had heard rumors of, but never believed would happen anytime soon. I’m daunted by the idea of figuring out how to engage my kids in productive Sabbath-day gospel conversations – particularly given their differing ages and the added challenge of having three restless boys – but, this is a change that I welcome. Home worship is an appealing concept to me. In fact, I wouldn’t mind getting together with other families to study the scriptures and talk about the gospel. On this particular weekend, however, there’s another aspect of my enthusiasm about this change that’s at the forefront of my mind. Perhaps two-hour church will make it easier for me to squeeze in visits to other churches. And if I only go to sacrament meeting – well, even that has been reduced from 70 minutes to 60. It’s not much, but it could give me a jump on getting to another service.
There’s one complicating factor, however, another recent development. Last Sunday, the Bishop asked me if I can start helping out for an hour each week in the nursery. For some months now, I’ve been without a responsibility at church, what we refer to as a “calling”. I admit, I’ve enjoyed the freedom, including the flexibility it offers me to go to another church if I want to. On the other hand, I must say I was a bit relieved to have this calling extended to me. I accepted it immediately, because the nursery – where I get to hang out with 18-month to 3-year olds – is a nice, low-stress place to hide out. There are many other things I could be asked to do in the church that would demand much more time, and I’m not ready to sacrifice personal projects I’m working on. Everyone in the church is supposed to have a calling. And if I’m going to have a calling, this is the sort that I want to have. And besides, once we go to two-hour church, I’ll only be needed in the nursery every other week. So, all of this is a net positive for me.
Anyway, on this morning, I’m thinking more about how I might squeeze two church visits in, taking advantage of not having our regular service. And rather than leave my wife with all the kids so that I can go off and attend other churches, I’ve decided the best of all worlds would be to take one or two of the kids with me. This way, they get some exposure to other churches and my wife doesn’t have single-parent duty with all four kids. So, I’m thrilled when not only my 10-year-old, but also my 7-year-old both want to go on church visits with me. I’ve settled on Spirit of Peace United Church of Christ at 9:30 AM, since it’s close and the relatively early meeting time will leave some breathing room for me to get to another meeting afterward. Spirit of Peace is a humble congregation that meets in a nearby community center. It seems kid-oriented, a place that might serve as a good first non-LDS church-going experience for my boys, and also has this to say about itself:
“…there’s no stained glass. There are no pews. No formal clothes being worn. There’s nothing fancy or flashy at all. We’re a small, vibrant faith community. It’s kind of like how it was when Jesus and the people who followed him gathered together. We come as we are and trust that is more than good enough for God and for each other.”