What a sickening phrase that is… church shopping. It conjures up the image of a shopping mall where the 21st century consumer can go and find whatever products they would like to purchase. To be frank, that is just a horrible way to talk about the church. However, I understand that God stirs the story of people’s homes for many different reasons. We’ve met families who were driving to another side of the city (or another city all together) to attend a church. God gave them a vision to find a local church in their community in order to leverage their missionary call in their own backyards. We also get to meet people who have just landed here in Katy, TX, because of a transfer with one of many great companies that fill the Houston metroplex.
These situations demand that a family begins doing internet searches looking for churches in Katy, TX. After a little perusal of a website you take the leap and attend a service. You have things you are looking for in that church… different people from different backgrounds are looking for all kinds of different things. Although the phrase is sickening…. there you are shopping for churches. In another post titled, How to Find a Church in Suburbia, I discussed some things that should examined. The problem with church shopping is not that a family is taken through a transition and needs to find a local church to call home. The problem with church shopping is that it becomes an attitude or posture that is carried in the heart of an individual through their involvement in the local church.
This is a metaphor that has raised eyebrows in the past, but I will stubbornly stand by it. My first priority and commitment in life is to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I also have a priority and commitment to my bride. Sure, there was a little ‘shopping’ that happened before God knocked me off of my feet with her presence in my life… but today as her husband I am committed to her regardless of the difficulties that we will inevitably encounter. I am convinced by the scriptures that my covenant with a local expression of the church works in a very similar way.
I am going to make mistakes and do things that are hurtful to my awesome bride. She is going to make mistakes as well… and there are going to be seasons of our life together that are difficult and very far from how we want them to look. Yet struggling through those seasons together and working through the excruciating process of confession, repentance, perseverance, and transformation makes our marriage relationship stronger and brings great glory to our Father in Heaven. I believe God desires for the people of his church to mirror that growth. People in the church will let you down and sometimes say hurtful things. There will be seasons in the church where the preaching is not as great as you thought it was a couple months ago. There will be seasons when the worship has too many hymns or not enough. However, the community and intimacy of the relationships of the church will grow exponentially as we work through the difficult process of confession, repentance, perseverance, and transformation. God will honor that in your heart, home, and his church.
Maybe you have found yourself in a season where you are shopping for a church. I want to encourage you to find a church that is founded and propelled by biblical truth, and one with which you can put your hands to the plow and then fight for the Kingdom of God along side that community with perseverance and great joy. God will honor your faithfulness!