I’ve gone to church all my life, except for The Wander Years between 18 and 24.
During that time, I was guilty of all sorts of unspeakable atrocities, including voting for Bill Clinton in 1992.
I jest. Sort of. My super smart PoliSci roommate was right about him all along.
Those years are replete with fascinating stories. Alas, that’s another post. Or maybe a book.
This post is about church.
Since relocating, we’ve been visiting churches. We’re weighing several factors: the doctrinal soundness of the teaching, the content of worship, the children’s ministries, how naturally we could fit it and participate.
Finding a church is a little like finding a doctor or hair stylist. There are a lot of good ones out there, but only a few you’d be comfortable seeing regularly.
Having been in church so long, I’ve experienced some vibrant, healthy, edifying communities. And I’ve seen my share of scandals, splits, legalism, and hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy. With trepidation I list it. The trespass all of us commit because none of us is perfect. That’s an important lesson I began to come to terms with to emerge from The Wander Years and give church another try.
People will fail you. It will happen.
One pastor I know said people often ask him if they will be hurt by becoming part of a church.
“Yes,” he said. “If you stick around long enough, yes.”
So why go? Well, that’s part of the lesson too. People will fail you; God will not. I go to church because it’s an integral part of following after Him.
My individual walk, my personal prayers, my Bible study are imperative, but incomplete if I’m not relating with other imperfect people who are also following after God.
As surely as some of those people will fail me, I will fail some of them.
More often on this trajectory though, glimmers of Christ-likeness shine through. We support one another. Pray with and for one another. Learn together. Stand together as a smaller community and as part of The Church, the greater congregation of believers across the ages.
Looking for a church is not easy. Some weeks I get discouraged. But I’ve been around this block before. I know the search is worth it.
If you’re looking for a church community, take heart. Don’t give up. Keep visiting. Pray for wisdom. Trust God to provide. Follow after Him.
If you’re in a good church, by all means go. With thanksgiving and gratitude, go. Be a participant, not an observer.
And if you’re in a church where you’ve prayerfully done all you can and it’s still not working for whatever reason, it may be time to move on. Quietly, without making a fuss, leave in order to find a healthier situation.
Being part of a good church is too important not to pursue.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT
Don’t give up. Let the Waters Rise by Mikeschair.