The last time I went church shopping I was a freshman in college. My first Sunday on campus, I walked to the Methodist church that was a block from me. I’d grown up in the Methodist church and truly expected to find a church just like the one I was confirmed in.
And so, like many of other youth group grads, I gave up. My first semester in college, I never attended church.
But then a group of friends connected me to their Catholic church; A couple years later, I started dating a guy (who's now my husband) and soon after, began attending and serving at his church. It was there I first felt called to youth ministry.
The rest, as they say, is history.
For the last 19 years, my family has always attended the church I’ve worked at.
But now, I’m no longer working in a church (Nothing bad happened; I left to take a job at Fuller Youth Institute). So, we’re church shopping.
The problem is, having spent my entire adult life in church ministry, I know too much.
I know that
- No church is perfect.
- The best-looking church buildings are often nothing more than a fancy façade.
- A denominational affiliation doesn’t necessarily mean that a church adheres to all the theological or social positions of that tradition.
- Churches can be unwelcoming… Sometimes intentionally so but many times unintentionally so.
- Churches divide people as often – if not more than – they unite them.
- Pastors come and go and more importantly, they’re imperfect.
- Those who fill the pews on Sundays don’t always love like Jesus on Mondays.
- Churches can hurt people as much as they can heal them.
I know these things.
And yet… I also cannot deny that
- The church (and more specifically, Jesus) has shaped, molded, challenged, and transformed me more than anything else in my life.
- My richest and deepest relationships have begun in and often centered around the church.
- When it’s at its best, the church has the power to care for people (and communities) in a way that few other entities do.
As much as the church sometimes infuriates me, the truth is I can’t imagine my life without it. And so this Sunday, my family will do what I haven’t done since I was 18 years old. We’ll start searching for a church, together.
We won’t be looking for the perfect church.
There is no such thing.
Instead, we’ll be looking for the perfect church for us. That, I think (or at least I hope!), is something we can find.