As my family has spent time over the past few weeks visiting four different churches, something struck me about all of this searching: is church hunting inherently selfish?
There are two churches that exist in the church hunter’s mind:
The Church of my Wants and The Church of my Needs
The Church of my Wants is where the selfishness of church hunting resides: I want a church where people are like me, think like me, drink coffee like me, listen to music like me and care about the same things I care about. These are all wants.
The Church of my Needs is a lot simpler: proximity, songs, Scripture, communion and nursery.
Separating the two is hard.
Right now there are two churches we really enjoyed going to. Both have good music. Both had a nursery. Both were laid back. One of them is liturgical and fits me theologically like a finely-tailored suit. The other is substantially closer to where we live and reminds us more of the church we left behind in New Jersey.
Part of me wonders:
The other part of me wonders:
The last church we attended was a balance of my wants and needs. I never got all of my wants and never satisfied all of my needs, but the balance made it worth the blood, sweat and tears we poured into it. Belonging to my old church was inherently selfish, but a good selfishness. I wanted to be there so that I could pour myself out to others in service. If anything, this whole process has reminded me of the whole point of going to church: not to satisfy our personal wants and needs but to be in a community that can share the burden of everyone’s wants and needs.
With this in mind, the crux of church hunting should fall on this question: Is this a church of my wants and needs that can become a community where, out of my satisfaction and filling, I can pour myself out to others?
Whichever church answers that question best should be the church we belong to and serve in.
CC Image • stevecoutts on Flickr