I am glad you are reading this post. I want to challenge a common perception in church life, mostly that there is a perfect church to find. I am not saying that there aren’t churches that might more fully align with your theology as you develop, but I want to challenge the notion that finding ‘the church for you’ is just the normal and right thing to do. The church that you grew up might just be the church for you for the rest of your days. At least I don’t want to exclude that possibility.
I have encountered a very interesting phenomenon in church life, maybe you can relate to it. I know people who have been ‘searching’ for the right church for years. Literally. They are always on the cusp of finding that perfect spiritual home. The one with the right worship, the right social scene, the right pastor, the right youth group, the right Sunday school, the right children’s program, etc. Enough already! Seriously.
You don’t need a perfect church to grow in faith, in fact the kind of searching without finding can be a sign of narcissism. I know, harsh words, and I don’t know every circumstance and every situation, but I think it needs to be said, the searching, searching, and searching for the perfect place may not actually be a sign of spiritual health. It certainly isn’t spiritually neutral.
There is a time and place for exploring your beliefs and where to go to church, but there is also a time and place to stick with the pain, growth, and difficulty that comes with the life of the church. Not every situation in church should be a positive experience, but every situation and season of church can be an opportunity to grow in the fullness of love that is found in Jesus Christ.
I can remember going to one church that was not particularly friendly or vibrant in terms of its life or mission, but there was an elderly missionary couple there who shared their faith and love of Jesus and others. It is this couple, a couple who traveled the world for Jesus, who knew that staying with a church and witnessing is as much an act of growth as anything else. Looking back I don’t imagine this was a particularly easy task, but it was the right task. They were in their way strengthening what remained of the gospel in the life of this church.
Perhaps some of us are called to that sort of presence as well.
Now that I have your attention, I’ll dial it back a notch.
I am not saying that staying with your church is always the right thing to do, but I do believe that God works powerfully among those who love his people and his church. My practical suggestion is to have enough of a Christian community around you to help you discern when it may be time to stay or go. The point is that we are called to a local body and it is okay that the body might just be the church we grew up in, raised our kids in, and eventually grew old in.
My simple point, if you are baptized and buried in the same church, you may be blessed indeed.