Monday, November 22, 2010

Our "Shopping" Experience

Don't you hate it when you are shopping for something specific that you need, and you just can't find it???  You go from store to store, hopeful as you enter each one that it will contain "the perfect dress" or shoes or gift or whatever you are looking for, only to leave it a short time later feeling disappointed, frustrated, weary, and eventually Discouraged over your lack of success.

We have been shopping every weekend for the same item -- and have found it quite difficult to find the one we are looking for.  We have tried several on for size,  but it is challenging to find one that is just the right fit. 

The object of our search?  A new church home. 

I think looking for the elusive "perfect church" is always a challenge.  Because we were members of a church that was pretty close to Ideal once before, it makes the search that much harder.  We still tend to compare every church we visit back to that one.

So, we are church shopping (not to be confused with church hopping!) these days.  You know the routine -- every Sunday a different church -- looking for an unobtrusive place to park the ginormous white van with 12 fishes on the back, the awkward feeling of having all eyes on you as you enter and look for a pew long enough to hold the whole family, answering all the same questions about whether you are new to the area, whether that pew full of children "are all yours," etc.  And then there is the even more awkward feeling of having no one talk to you or ask you any of those familiar questions at all, but to simply ignore the fact that there is a strange family sitting in front of them in church.  (Perhaps they were just "put out" because we actually had the nerve to sit in their pew!)

With each church, we enter eager and hopeful . . . and with most, we leave disappointed, frustrated, or heavy-hearted.   We left one church with pounding headaches and ringing ears, and felt almost defiled, as if we had just spent the past hour and half at a blaring rock concert!!!   :(   We have left other churches with mixed emotions, liking some aspects and disagreeing with other aspects of their worship service.  Sadly, we have left some churches with just a sense of lethargy, the service having been nothing but a prelude to our afternoon naps.  (What a reminder of why God calls a lukewarm church nauseating!  See Revelation 3:16.) 

Finally, this past Sunday, we actually left a church feeling Hopeful!  It seemed a most unlikely candidate -- a very modest church building with no stained glass windows, no chandeliers, no choir loft, no fancy fellowship hall, or any of the other adornments we are used to, but just a very humble building (by American standards) with a simple group of believers that seemed intent on actually worshiping and serving God with their whole hearts!  It was a profound reminder that the church is not the building at all -- but the people -- the body of Christ!

If there was one word I would use to describe this church it would be "Real."  We aren't interested in going to church just to mark it off our To Do Lists, to impress others or to appease our consciences.  If all we are going to do is "play church," we might as well stay home.

I am reminded of this thought-provoking post by a Christian author of children's books that I used to worship with in days gone by.  She tackles the difficult issue of why we should go to church in the first place.  The answer might just surprise you.


Rebecca's Refining said...

I understand your frustration! It is difficult to find that "perfect" church! (Of course, we are all sinners...therefore no church can truly be perfect!)

When we moved to Lima we kept looking for our church in Charleston, but soon realized that was not realistic! Every church (with its pastor and congregation) is unique, and cannot be duplicated.

Finding the "right" church can be challenging, especially with the carnality that has crept into so many churches, but God will lead you in this area as with any other!

I will try to remember to pray for you as you are making this decision....I am afraid there is a bit of dad in me at times! :)

Noel said...

I wish you well, it's a reminder at how easy it is to take good churches for granted.

Greg and Donna said...

I pray that you will find the perfect fit for your family. We left our former church last year and were blessed enough to only have to visit 1 church. We had found home. Everyone loves it, people talk to us, I knew 2 families from our homeschool group, my children love it and my husband is very content here. We are greeted warmly each Sunday which is very different than before. The Lord is very present in this group of believers. I hope that you are blessed in your "hunt" soon and that you find home!

Tracy said...

Found your blog through your comments to the Dixon's :) Great blog - look forward to reading more in the future. Feel free to read mine, as well. Do your older children still live at home? Do any of them blog separately?

Jules said...

Oh I know how hard it is to leave a church where you really feel you belong and then have to turn around and search for a new one. We had every intention of church shopping when we moved to NZ but God had other plans! We had only been in the country a short while when I had a fall and ended up in bed for 6 weeks. By the time I was up and walking again we were well and truly ready to belong to a church. We went to one of the same denomination as the one we had attended in Australia and haven't left! It's been almost 15 years and while it isn't 'perfect' it is 'home'. Hope you find your 'home' soon.

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