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Sofi and I have been connected to a Lutheran congregation in some way for quite a number of years. Just prior to coming to Our Redeemer, my call was to Concordia Seminary. So when Sofi and I got to Saint Louis, we went out church hunting. For the first time in quite a few years, we went out to find a church not based on our connection to the church as the pastoral family but rather as visitors off the street. We were not looking for anything fancy, simply looking for a place where we could worship and serve. This experience of finding a church proved to be eye opening.
The first place that we visited was a nice. The worship services were ok; the preaching was ok; and the people were outwardly friendly. We visited this church a number of times. The worshipping community was not too large 80 people or so in two worship services. Folks in that congregation had known each other for a long time. They were friendly to people who visited and yet, it was also clear, very clear, that it would take a long time for any visitor to become a part of the inner circle of this church.
The second church that we visited had a bit larger attendance about the size of ORLC. The services were all traditional and the preaching very dynamic. This could have been our church, but again, the impression was that this group of people had known each other for a long time. There were a few folks assigned greeter duties but beyond that, we came and went with very few people even thinking about saying hi or introducing themselves. So the impression was that the church was quite insular not too interested in outside influences. We came and went with almost nary a greeting or goodbye.
The third church that we visited was friendly - lots of nice folks who did their best to be welcoming. The church invited people to greet each other before the start of worship much like what happens here. The pastor was a very nice guy a good preacher. We actually liked this congregation. So we had our membership transferred there. I spoke to the pastor a number of times and asked how we could serve. Nothing happened. After about one and one-half years, I was asked to become involved, but by then, we had settled into getting up on Sunday, going to church, spending a bit of time in fellowship and then going home. It was hard to carve out the time to be involved after so much time of nothing! Although outwardly friendly it was clear that even in this nice community of believers there were circles of acceptance: those that had been there for a long time who were the movers and shakers and
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