Sunday, February 5, 2012

I think it's finally time to go church-hunting again (for real).

I read this parable and finally decided I'm really going to find a new church. 
"It's an unprecedented cultural moment for Christians, to see if we can act less like individual consumers of spirituality and more like the family of God." - a CT editorial
What does it mean to be part of a/the "church"?  What sort of participation is required of/beneficial to believers?  What is (most) important when looking for a church body to join?  I thought I'd get the easy questions out of the way.
"This is just a church service. Church is actually about caring for one another, and serving one another, and speaking truth to one another in love. Don't get the two confused." - don't discount everything he said just because he's heretical in one belief

My last church had wonky doctrine/theology.  My current church most resembles a benevolent country club with great theological theory but what seems like few opportunities to practice dentistry.  (See above). 
"I was reminded of churches where people are nice, reasonably polite, and cooperative. But with some regularity, one learns that underneath this appearance of religious composure, this person or that one is hurting terribly: firings, divorces, personal failures, doubt, addictions, sexual identity issues … the list is long. But no one speaks: neither the person in trouble nor the ones who know of the trouble. Why? Because that would threaten the fantasy that everyone's fine. This kind of church culture starts with the idea that everyone is presumed fine until they prove differently." - Gordon MacDonald from Leadership Journal
I would like a church in a community I belong to (where I live or work).  I know neighbors are anyone we come in contact with, but I think maybe I should also be getting involved with the people who live near where I live or work.  I know that I need doctrine I can nod my head to, but I think I also need chances to disciple/mentor and be discipled/mentored.  I would like to find a church body that needs my gifts but won't suck the life and energy completely out of me (not much energy to suck, honestly).  I would like a community of believers who are (at least sometimes) honest with each other, who speak truth to each other, who are like a family (with the good and bad that comes with that status). 

Now maybe this is the Ideal Church, the one that can't really exist in a fallen world.  Maybe I am a big silly dreamer who needs to have more realistic expectations.  Don't hold back if you think I should adjust my aim.  Let me know what YOU think is important on a search like this.

(You may have noticed I don't mention worship style.  I've found great joy and communion in high church-type worship and in contemporary worship.  That part I don't really care as much about as the other things that are more important.)

So what advice can you give me about the proper way to go about this search for a new branch of the family to join?  Let my fingers do the walking first to check out doctrine and churches in my area?  Just start going to random services?  Going back if I get a good feeling?

It doesn't seem very spiritual, but I think I may need to start another spreadsheet . . .

What are your experiences with this process?  How did you come to find your current church body?  Why is it a great place for you to be?  What wisdom can you share with this seeker?

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