The next time Beverly and I walk into a Scioto County Ohio church it will be our 80th visit with people of faith in their churches. In the beginning, we had decided to visit a church we had never attended. We selected the Tick Ridge Freewill Baptist Church mostly because in the fall we had been invited by a Pastor friend to come to visit. Thusly that was in January of 2017 and a lot of water has gone over the dam since that time. We enjoyed doing that so much that we decided to do it again!
Initial investigations of searching phone books and such led us to think there may be less than seventy churches in Scioto County Ohio. Since that time we have come to realize we were thinking way too small. Now we know that number is going to be closer to the mid three hundreds. This, of course, is a good thing as it means the people of faith have lots of churches in which to worship in the faith of their choosing.
Along the way, we have learned a few things and are left with questions. We are sometimes saddened at the empty seats. Many of these churches are in populated communities of people. We ask, where are they at? Here is a wonderful church in their neighborhood and there should be people walking up the sidewalks ready to go in. This is often not the case.
We have found that churches can be like families or other concerns that suffer disagreements, confusion or perhaps even distrust. We have walked into several such situations but we are not there to judge or report. We always know these issues will work themselves out in our absence. Our only purpose in being in these churches is to worship the Lord with those who are there on a weekly basis. For those people who never leave their own church, it gives them a chance to see what is going on in others. By visiting my original blog site medium.com and searching Randy Rucker the reader can also see photos of the churches in which we visit. So for those who wonder that is why I also photograph services.
Our experience has been a great blessing to Beverly and I as well as to Chris and Stephanie Neff who join us when they can steer away from their other church obligations.
Beverly and I have no current ties with any particular church. Many ask if we are looking for a church. The answer is no, we are here to experience your church today. When we walk into a church this is our church for the day. We share the love, experience the worship and we hope there will be some who will check out the churches we visit. Some know who we are and our mission, others do not.
It is is very difficult in one hour to get a fair summary of a church service without error. That is my responsibility and I try to be very attentive to all going on around me. Beverly and the Neffs often help me fill in gaps. I am sure mistakes are made but I do the best I can.
Recently a lady had come to our front door several times seeking me out. She left no name, only a brief message questioning about our church visits. Well, on a third occasion a car pulled up in the driveway with a lady walking up to me and I had no knowledge as to who she was. But then she introduced herself and said she had been reading my stories and had even attended a number of the churches I had written about.
Well, I have to say I was immediately touched by her introduction and her persistence in wanting to speak with me. Her next question made me smile. “Was there one church in particular that you would recommend”? I said that we are not in the business of looking for a church. If that had been the case we would have stopped this project long ago settling in on a church family to call our own.
My point is we have loved all of the churches we have joined for services. We have visited multiple denominations, the people of faith following their own practice of worship without judgment. We did not anticipate I am sure that the blessings would all be ours. Scioto County Ohio churches are a lovely place to hang out for the purpose of worshiping our Savior, our Creator!
The one thing we learned that may be helpful to Pastors is that making information available about church services is very important. On several occasions, Beverly and I have ended up in church parking lots looking for start times with differentials between Sunday School and Church Worship times. More often than not we arrive for the worship service so we need to know that start time.
I search out church start times and information on websites and on Church Facebook pages. Sometimes these pages do not clearly give church time information, leaving me in the dark. If someone else is thinking to attend a church they need to easily be able to access such information on these sites. If someone drives by, the signage must provide information that will encourage a potential visitor. It is all that simple!
Recently I attended a men’s outreach service that I understand was the dream of Tim Doyle who wished to bring men of faith together for a prayer breakfast or luncheon on a regular basis. He had asked me to attend on several occasions but it was recently that I had the opportunity to join this event with men from many Scioto County church denominations and faiths. I was so glad to finally attend one of these sessions and the group now plans to conduct a men’s retreat sometime in this new year. I think this effort by Tim Doyle is a springboard into the Christianity of men throughout our community.
Early on Beverly and I discussed what our mission in the visitation of community churches should be about. Attending churches and meeting the people within these churches have become an important part of our lives. Beverly suggested a theme that we should sum up with in writing the stories about our visits. Every person in every church can reach out bringing the occasional new person in for a visit that could change their life, importantly filling the seats of our churches. Soon Beverly and I will walk into the 80th church and our mission is the same, to visit the people of faith in Scioto County Ohio.
In Beverly’s words, “As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World! Each one, reach one.
See ya in church”!
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.