We've all done it, right? There's that herd mentality of wanting to go where "the Spirit is moving" or "God is on the move" in the region where you live. The burden of not only finding a church, but having peace that you and your children will thrive in that context can be mind boggling.
It reminds me a lot of my dedication to Speedway gas stations. I'm addicted to Speedway. I've got the rewards card, the app on my phone, and just this morning I got $10 (not $1,2, or 3, but $10) in free gas due to a promotion that they were running!!! So while I am a big fan of these stations (don't even get me started on cheap drinks for the kids), not all stations are created equal. The one on hwy 421 almost always is the cheapest if I'm going that way and have time, but I won't EVER buy food there again if I need a quick fix. That food poisoning experience is not one that I care to repeat. I stopped at another this morning that did not have any gift cards for the $10 promo that I wanted to reap, so I had to go elsewhere (major fail on their part...how long have you known about that promotion?). So I finally found a station that has never steered me wrong, always has what I'm looking for (despite the fact that it is smaller than the other two), and the employees are much cooler (in a Hank Hill kind of way).
I know, you are wondering..."Will this dude ever get through his Speedway diatribe and make a point?" The church is not Speedway. It is not even Burger King. We may not always have the gift card that you want, you may not always get things your way right away (often it will not be your way AT ALL unless that fits with the vision of our church, the direction of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God), and there may be times when you don't feel warm and fuzzy because the stuff of life is not always warm and fuzzy.
But, but, but...sorry. Read your Bible. That church doesn't exist in the Bible! They had issues. Life was messy. Yes, FEELINGS WERE HURT! (Heaven forbid right?) Somehow the blood of Christ served as the glue that held this rag tag, diverse group of people together. It is when we journey far outside of the faith, into the wonderful world of cultural Christianity that we conjure these images in our minds that there will be a perfect church that is true to all of the wonderful pictures on social media (you do know that social media only tells part of the story right?).
Bottom line, the church in all of its glory is still full of people who sin. Much like the analogy of the sheep in scripture, people stink, bite one another, attack the shepherd, and even get lost sometimes. The call to ministry, whether vocational or lay leadership, is lonely and often thankless. We don't do it for fame or glory, except for God's greater glory. The church is not a haven for consumers to get their bargain of the month or even free stuff (except for amazing grace) as much as it is a place to come and die as a disciple of Christ who is passionate about making disciples. A good friend of mine has reminded me recently that the people who join our church family are exactly the ones who need to be with us or who God has led to Peace Haven. That really is the essence of this post. Spiritual growth may not have the best website (although ours stands up to just about any) or the best music (even though we continue to grow in this area), but we are a band of brothers resolved to know Christ and make him known. We have worked and continue to work to be a church that loves God extravagantly, extends grace and salvation to everyone within our reach, and is tangibly faithful to the disciple making process (no pew potatoes allowed). If that is the kind of church that you are looking for...come and die. Its that simple.
The clip that I've shared below is an old friend of our family who just released his new CD. Check it out!