As Chad & I start trying to figure out where God wants us to be for the next few years, we are visiting a few different churches. It's not very easy to discover what a church is like in one Sunday or even a weekend, but one thing that I have discovered in the last few years is that the feeling of family is very important to us.... well, at least to me it is.
Since we have been living so far away from family it has really become apparent, since we've had Asher, that having people around who really take an interest in how your life is going, more than just accepting that all is "fine."
I grew up in a church that had a very strong sense of family. There weren't very many members & since it was in a Navy town, there weren't too many that were there for more than a few years at a time. That could have been cause for disconnectedness. People could have thought, "oh, they'll be moving on in a few years, it's not worth investing the time to get to know them."
When Chad & I were moving around for school we had that happen at a few churches. People figured that since we were there as students we wouldn't be in for the long haul & didn't really bother trying to get to know us. We made a point of finding our own friends & working on our own relationships.
I have found though, that since Chad is a pastor, he needs to be free to talk to people after church & that leaves me to run after Asher. Because of this I do not have much opportunity to meet people after church, so my friendships are formed more outside of church. Not that I am someone who will meet random people in the supermarket. Perhaps b/c we are still the "newer folks," we don't come to mind when people are getting together, so I have had to make a concerted effort to invite others over, or contact them for things.
What I want to find in a church is people who make an effort to get to know us outside of church. When we aren't standing right in front of them, I would like them to still remember that we exist. I would like for them to realize that we are not close to family (& there are lots of benefits of living by family), & perhaps offer to fill in some of the voids.
I don't think there are as many issues as there used to be w/ the pastor (& their family) making friends w/in the church. I don't think the jealously issues are as prevalent as they have been in the past. I know more & more churches are understanding that the pastor's wife is just a normal person & just b/c her husband has been called into the ministry it doesn't mean that she knows how to play the organ, or sing on the praise team, or lead a Bible study. I think that churches are also understanding that the pastor's family needs friends w/in the church just like anyone else & as long as favourites aren't played, they are ok w/ that. I just think that more churches need to be aware of who is coming to their services. Like I said, the issue of people not making an effort to get to know us happened before we were in the ministry as well, it's not limited to pastors.