We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming. [Hebrews 10:24-25 (GW)]
When people become dissatisfied with their houses, they don’t abandon the idea of living in a house again and move into a tent. Either they tolerate their grievance, remodel or go shopping for a house that better suits their needs. Yet, with our churches, when people become dissatisfied with their particular parish or denomination, they often stop going to any church at all.
Sometime remodeling a house can be a simple project and modifying a church may be as easy as suggesting a new small group or working with the worship committee to explore new avenues of worship. Our northern church, for example, responded to the changing needs of the parish by adding a contemporary worship service to its traditional ones. Sometimes, however, remodeling won’t do the trick and what’s wrong for us can’t be changed. Perhaps the house is two-story when we no longer can negotiate stairs or the church no longer corresponds with where we are in our faith journey. Whatever the reason, rather than abandon church altogether, it’s time to go house-of-worship hunting until a new church home is found.
Church hunting isn’t much different than house hunting, except that we’re less interested in the number of bathrooms or curb appeal. Like any other important choice, we start by taking our quest to God in prayer and then exploring the Internet to see what’s available. As with real estate, we may have to check out several possibilities and visit more than once before finding the church that can feel like home. Like people and houses, Christian churches come in all sizes and styles and each has its own personality. A good Sunday school could be important for a young family while opportunities to serve may be more important to retirees. Some people prefer mega-churches while others want an intimate atmosphere. Some people want the ceremony and dignity of traditional or liturgical churches while others want the free-flowing atmosphere, contemporary music and PowerPoint displays found in “praise and worship” churches. Others may even favor the more casual atmosphere of the “seeker sensitive” churches with their use of secular music and performance style worship.
Not every house is right for every family and not every Christian church is right for every Christian. Recently, our travels brought us past both the Free Spirit Biker Church and the Bar None Cowboy Church. While neither would be a good fit for me, they are for someone else! The important thing is to find the right balance of Scripture, prayer, preaching, music, evangelism, sacraments and fellowship for our individual needs. What we must never do is give up on Christ’s Church just because we’ve given up on a particular one! Like Goldilocks, we just have to keep searching until we find the church that is “just right!”