Today while Kyle and I were driving to the airport so I could catch a flight to Colorado to see my family, Kyle and I were discussing theology. We have started doing this often, since I am in school studying theology and in the process of learning what I believe about the Bible. As we were talking, the subject of “church shopping” came up. Being in the ministry for almost nine years (which by no means equates to us knowing everything), we have seen families come and go at the three churches Kyle has pastored at.
We often hear the phrase “I am shopping for a church,” and as much as I understand this concept, it is difficult to understand why or where people get this idea. Often many families are not searching for a place to serve; they are looking for a place to be served. They are not looking for opportunities to connect with a community; they are looking for a place that either confirms what they already know about the Bible, God, and Jesus, or they are looking for an emotional/spiritual high that gets them through whatever rough patch they are dealing with at the time.
As much as the Church can do these things, the church is not really meant to be our spiritual “Wal-Mart.” I shop at Wal-Mart often, and I know that I can go there and get low prices on pretty much anything I need or want, but there are a couple things that happen when I shop at Wal-Mart for everything.
1. Most of the clothes are cheaply made. They do not last very long, and end up falling apart after a short period of time.
2. I end up leaving with things I do not really need, they are just things that I want. I spend more money than I planned on spending, because I have it in mind that things are low cost.
There are a couple ways this connects to how we treat the church. Most people are more interested in what they can get inside the Church, than how they can serve, grow, learn, and be challenged. We are looking for our long held beliefs to be upheld, while the pastor gives us super good tips on how to be a better Christian. When what we really need to do to be a better Christian is to start loving people, living with them in community, and go to Church to live out the life of love we are called to by God.
The other claim I have heard is, “They just are not free or open enough in their worship.” My reply to this is if you are really interested in worshipping God, for who God is and what He has done in your life, what the other people around you are doing will not matter. If I am in church to worship God, the Creator of heaven and earth, then I am going to be consumed by worshipping Him. The people around me are with me, as the Body of Christ, to worship with me, but what they do or what they are not doing should not be the focus of my worship. My focus is on God. My worship is for God. Who we are as humans, is complete when we worship the Creator. And we can be who that is wherever we attend church, no matter what the other people around us are doing.