While in Costa Rica, I have attended several different churches. The first was a tiny house church about 2 blocks from my first apartment, and there were several ticos and many gringos that attended, so it was a good first fit. Keep in mind I didn't understand much Spanish at the time, so my church notes consisted of whatever Spanish words I did know, so notes looked something like this: agua pura vida, entonces, Juan, entonces, entonces, entonces. That pastor said entonces a lot, which means ''so'' or ''then'' in English. However, the Sunday he preached about men should only have short hair and it was obvious there were some men in the congregation with shaggy or shoulder-length hair that he was addressing, I decided it was better not to get involved with the disputes of the tiny house church.
Next I attended a Columbian church called ''La Amistad'' (The Friendship). The worship was good and I was impressed with the pastor, but as time went on I realized the pastor wasn´t actually at church very often, that there were many guest speakers and that the services were just downright loooooong, at least long on my then-gringa-standards.
When I moved in with my tico family, I attended the Nazarene Church with them. The large red, yellow, and orange stained glass sun-rays-patterned window on the front of the building made me hope there might be some artistic, youthful style to this church. Well, while there were youth, they were all about 15 and under, so there weren´t many my age to connect with. Keep in mind I was still learning the language and so I depended largely on my tico family to help my comprehension level as we discussed the message during Sunday lunch.
I finally felt confident enough with my level of Spanish to embark on my own to find my own church. Haha, I embarked far enough to visit the church Trish was then attending with her tico family. I started attending there a year ago, and while I have had several reservations along the way, I am still going strong at Dimensión Cristiana. Let me attempt to describe why:
1) Involvement in the community. From prison ministry to feeding the poor to connections to many international missionaries, the church is always looking for more ways to serve.
2) Biblical sermons. We do this ''chant'' about what our Bible means to us at the beginning of each message. We hold up our Bibles and say ''This is my Bible, the infallible Word of God. She is my guide to life and conduct. I believe I am who my Bible says I am, that I can do what my Bible says I can do, and that I have what my Bible says I have. This I declare in the name of Jesus, Amen.'' (something like that :)) Then the pastor dives into some text and he's all over the place in the Word, making connections and challenging us to apply the Word in our lives.
3) Bible study. There are Tuesday night Bible studies that are absolutely 100% Bible. I have observed that sometimes in churches or in small groups the conversations become off-topic and aren´t really very Bible-focused, but this church has some pretty serious teachers that are wise in the Word and in life experience. I did a Bible study from February to May, and I am hoping to join another in September.
4) Amazing music. There are a group of about 20 people that rotate into the Sunday morning band, and they are all very talented. The music style is similar to Hillsong in English, passionate lyrics combined with musical variations.
5) Enthusiastic worship. To describe the worship, I would say it is pentecostal, slightly charismatic, as people jump and clap and raise their hands and some ladies wave shiny fabric and one guy speaks in tongues in his opera voice and people cry and the ushers go around handing out kleenex and stories about cancer being miraculously healed are shared.
Definitely different from my experiences at First Baptist Church of Kewanee or at Harvest Bible Church in Elgin. But for now, that's where you can find me on Sunday mornings from 10:30am to 1pm, just in case you'd like to join me :). (and yes, you read that right! The services last 2.5 hours!!! It doesn´t seem as long to me as it once did!)