The church-hunting over the last three weeks has been a bit of an experience.
The first place I tried was Findlay Memorial, an independent baptist church that had great teaching but lacked a certain oomph in its praise and lacked a whole barrowload of oomph in the welcome department. When my flatmate came along in the evening, nobody talked to us. We were sitting at the back, two six foot plus guys, looking very obviously out of place and new, and nobody decided we were worth talking to – not even the two folk who squeezed past us at the end of the service to get out of the pew. In the end I suggested to my flatmate that we should count to ten, and if nobody talked to us, we'd leave. So we did, they didn't, and we did.
Week two was The Tron, and I take a vindictive and thoroughly unchristian delight in telling you it boasted a non-existent welcome, excruciatingly uncomfortable pews, heavy and cumbersome hymnbooks (and heavy and cumbersome hymns, come to mention it), and a shockingly awful, dull, uninspiring and rambling sermon that lasted a whole hour and left my flatmate and I so drained of the will to live we headed straight to the pub afterwards to recover.
Honestly, what is it about churches and rock-solid pews? Why is it an essential part of the Sunday morning experience to have your backside numbed and cramped beyond the pain barrier? It maybe explains some churches' condemnation of homosexuality – anything they can do, our pews can do better. Or worse. And as for crap welcomes, a bit of politeness and a keen eye for people who look lost costs a church nothing, and can gain so much in terms of bringing folk into its community.
Tonight, we both tried out Destiny, a charismatic church on the south side of the city. Being of good presbyterian stock, this sort of malarky was a new experience for me, and I found it bizarre (in a good way) that it was as much like a club night or a gig as a church service. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the praise was very lively, led by a very talented band. Although the fact that the band kept playing in the background for the first half an hour or so blurred everything together, and it was hard to tell when we were meant to be praying, listening, singing, standing, sitting or giving our offering (and I can tell you they take credit cards).
The sermon was good, however – well-presented, well-delivered, to the point, and not too long. The venue was beautifully laid out, the seats were grand, and the congregation (or should that be crowd) seemed a young and dynamic bunch. The welcome was a bit stunted, however, and we couldn't help wondering if it was just a symptom of the big city. We're both used to smaller places, so perhaps this is something we'll just have to get used to in Glasgow.
So, loads more places still to suss out, but three down, and one gets voted into the next round.
The search continues…