I want to address the issue of finding the perfect church and share what I’ve been going through on my journey trying to find the right church for me. I think that as important as it is to find a church full of healthy relationships where God fills you up and speaks to you, it is easy to get caught up in trying to find the “perfect” church. And I think that is dangerous. With unrealistic expectations, it is impossible to be content anywhere. I also feel like I need to write about this because I feel a sense of stigma when people talk about switching churches or visiting new churches, calling it “church hopping.”
I love visiting new churches. It’s always so reaffirming to see how all of my friends worship God in their different environments. I went to Mexico with the church all the Christian club students at my school go to, and I went to Hume lake with them. So I’m known there, and although I don’t go there regularly I am always welcome and loved there. Being known in my home church, Fremont, and the church I’m currently exploring, Jesus Culture, is amazing. It’s crazy to know that if I were to roll into any one of those churches at any time, I will belong. There was no way I could attend Fremont regularly because it was so far from my house. But the leaders still invested in me. At Hume lake, they prayed that I would find the right church for me. A few months after Hume Lake, me and my best friend, Josephine, rolled into Jesus Culture on a random whim. We both left in tears.
I thought it would be interesting to visit their high school group so I crashed it. They had these students from Bethel visiting the youth group on a mission trip because we needed Jesus. They were giving random people in the room prophetic words. This one bethel student singled out a guy asking him, “Do you write music by any chance?”
And he replied, “Um, yeah. I actually submitted a song 2 weeks ago.”
And then the bethel student proceeded to speak life into him as a musician, encouraging him to pursue the amazing gift God had given him. Mind blown.
And then I got singled out. This is what was said:
Afterwards, I met so many people who were so encouraging, so kind, I felt like I had finally found a place in which everyone was just as passionate as me. And I’ve only been to JC 4 times, but it never fails to disappoint. I leave so revitalized, so full.
But today I went back to my home church. And my goodness, I’ve missed it. I got to see people that I haven’t seen in so long, people that I’ve been praying for, and all my mentors who are always praying for me. I got to see someone that I have been praying relentlessly for doing so much better and it made me so happy. I got to hug my favorite twins and my beloved prayer partner Barbs. So now I’m torn. I love both churches. How am I supposed to figure out which one is the perfect church for me? Am I supposed to give my home church a chance again or move on?
“You don’t need to figure anything out,” Michele replied, “God will figure it out for you.”
I don’t know where God is going to take me. So far, he seems to be casually bringing me to random places on spontaneous whims in which the most amazing things happen to me. To me, the perfect church is one in which I leave every week in extreme awe of God. It’s a church that I know everyone in, where I can inspire others with my experiences as well as be inspired by everyone else’s. It’s a church in which everyone sings extremely loud, where the person sitting next to you is instantly your new friend. My perfect church is one where people see straight through my smile when I’m hurting, a place where God sees me and finds me every single time.
But my hope is that I would not become overly critical of different kinds of churches because we need conservative churches and not conservative churches. We need small churches and big churches, Presbyterian churches, and Evangelical churches. In the end, we are chasing after Jesus, not a denomination of faith or the interior design of a building. We are learning to trust fully in him, and we need to help each other. We need to be supportive of one another when experiencing roadblocks in our faith because growing in our faith sometimes requires finding the right church. And finding the right church usually requires change. So we must encourage one another to step out of our comfort zones in whatever church God may be calling us to in which we are too afraid to embrace.
Anyways, there is no perfect church. Churches are run by imperfect humans, and we fall short in trying to love everyone and meet everyone’s needs. I think it’s important to know that wherever we go, God will always find us. In reality, there is only one church. No matter what church we go to, Christians should build one another up. Our true home is in heaven, in God’s arms. To anyone who has ever felt misplaced by the church, you are not alone. You do belong. You do not belong in this earthly mess, but you do belong to Him.
So maybe running after the perfect church is the wrong mindset. I think we are supposed to run after Jesus, and he will lead us to the church he needs us to be at. So we keep praying and praying, accepting that God often tends to lead us in really uncomfortable places. Please be praying that I will listen carefully to God over the next few weeks and will be able to discern for sure exactly which church God needs me to be. =)