As a pastor I get to meet many people who are looking for a church. From time to time I find people who are forthright enough to tell me they are shopping for a church. This concept use to drive me absolutely crazy. In many ways it does because it is very consumer based in its language even if not in practice. I also get to interact with people who have spent their whole life in the church and have some specific understandings of what the church should be. The conclusion I have come to is people are in search of the perfect church.
For a long time now I have said the perfect church is the one you attend only once. As is often found out the more we learn about the church the more we become aware of the challenges. I have taken time to ask people what their perfect church looks like, and how it would function. The answers are far and wide, inward and outward. What is the perfect church and how do I find it? Well the perfect church does not exist this side of the return of Christ.
All churches, no matter what our impression, or how much we think they are doing it right, have a common denominator which keeps them from perfection, humanity. Yes the church is God given, and established by Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, however it has been entrusted to the minds, hearts, souls and beings of humanity. At the risk of being too much like Calvin, humanity is lost, his words totally depraved. The reality is, we are fallen and imperfect. Still the God has entrusted to humanity this thing called the church, and with stunning regularity we mess it up.
So, what are we to do in the in between? Follow God with all you have. Churches will come and go, some will fit our fancy and some will not. There is not a church out there that will meet all our criteria all the time. What matters is are we following what God has called us to? Pastors are not the only ones who are called to come and go from churches, I think we are all called to radically follow the wind of the Spirit and go where we are called. This will mean the death of the 50 year member of churches. Great fear comes from that thought for many. for some, like myself, there is something exciting about watching the Spirit of God move. We must remember it is not about our little local church, it is about the Body of Christ, the real church, the Bride that will be claimed at the return. Then and only then will experience perfection in the church.