Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Perfect Church/Why Do We Go To Church

It's bad enough when other things get my mind going, and it results in a blog post. Sounds worse when your own blog makes you think and gives birth to another, but oh well, it gives me something to do. :-)

Nadine Covert used to be a traveling evangelist before she married, and was at our church in PA several times. I will never forget the time she told of a conversation between she and her unsaved sister, concerning the perfect church, and who would be in it. They each named some names, agreeing on the people would be in their perfect church, and then one of them stated that since the goal of a church is to win the lost, you needed unsaved people in it, but then they realized it wouldn't be a perfect church anymore.

There is no perfect church, and if there were, I wouldn't even be allowed in the parking lot! I remember coming from PA to college in Ohio in 1988. We had a few weeks to pick an area church to go to, and we had to attend there any week-end that we were at the college. That was tough. No church was like "home". I tried the Salem church, where I attend now, and didn't like it at all. Had you told me then that I would someday attend there regularly, and call it "home", I'd have been incredulous. It was too big. Too unfriendly. The preacher preached way too long. I went elsewhere, and didn't attend Salem regularly at all during my 4 years at Allegheny Wesleyan College.

The search for the perfect church is like trying to find the fountain of youth. It ain't gonna happen. So what do we do? We search for the best church for us, and for our family.

The most important thing is to find one that lines up doctrinally and theologically with what you believe. Don't go to one that will compromise you, just because it is nicer, friendlier, etc.
Though of much less importance than the belief system, you of course want a friendly church, a church where you can feel comfortable, and I don't mean sit on padded pews!

Freedom is important. You should feel free to testify and join in the services and activities of the church, and not sit on the sidelines feeling like an insider. Its nice to have a church where your kids will have other youth to be with, and a good youth program, but too many focus on that, instead of finding the best spiritual church.

And your church should be a place where you grow, and not stay where you are spiritually, or worse, digress.

I am sure there is much more to be said on that, but for now, that is what my pea brain came up with.

There is a movement on to have "home churches". A study has been done, and they find that many people who do a certain thing are starting to have home church. (To protect myself, I won't say what that is..............) Why do we go to church? Maybe a better question is, why should we go to church. Here are a few things I came up with, not an exhaustive list, but a "Mark" list.

1) Worship. It isn't a fashion show, or a family reunion, we are there to worship God. In song, offerings, testimonies.

2) Edification. We all need to hear some good preaching, but we can also get it from the testimonies of others.

3) Growth. The natural course of fire is to go out. We need to be in church to keep the fire going, to throw some gasoline on it once in awhile.

4) To learn. None of us know everything we should about God, the Bible, spiritual things. We all need to learn more. Church is the place to do it.

5) Fellowship. Church shouldn't be a party/gabfest, but we need to be around like-minded people of faith. We will never agree on everything. I love Southern Gospel, but attend church with some people who probably think I am a heretic and heathen for listening to that style of music, but we agree on what matters, and being around others who believe as I do, is encouraging.

6) To encourage others. I don't think this is one we think about much, if at all. As I posted yesterday, we really do need each other, and we need to encourage. It can be by testifying of what God has done for you this week. An answered prayer. A "I'm praying for you" to someone you know is going through rough times. A pat on the shoulder, a hug. Telling the pastor his sermon was good, the singer that his song was good. We need to get out of our little world, and brighten someone else's world. I hate to testify. Man, do I hate it - I sit there and come up with something somewhat intelligent to say, get up, and don't say at all what I wanted, sit down and think "man, that sounded stupid!" But we never know what an encouragement we can be to someone else by a simple testimony.

None of us go to a perfect church, but we can do our part, and pray for ways to help. We can suggest changes, but remember, we holiness people don't like change!

If you could change anything about your church, what it be? I don't think I'd change much. Get lazy boy recliners instead of pews, go in sweats instead of dress clothes, valet parking...........Ah, I am kidding. I'd promptly fall asleep in a lazy boy, but the rest.......

Seriously, I would change very few things. These aren't things that will make me leave the church, as most of them are about as likely to happen as the pope getting married. But if I ran the church...........scary thought there! - I'd change Wednesday night prayer meeting. It is pretty much a mini Sunday morning or Sunday night service. I'd make it a Bible study for adults, and move the youth and kids meetings from Sunday night to Wednesday night, and start Sunday evening church at 6! I shared my wonderful idea with my family, and they said it would never happen because no one comes Wednesday nights - I said "so? If they wanted to have their meeting, they would!" I would also do more in the fellow-shipping outside of church.

God can help us find a church that isn't perfect, but is the one for us. A place we can call home, and feel at home. A place to grow spiritually and be encouraged. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together". Church is there to help us to make it to Heaven, and help us to get others there. That's what it's all about.


Nancy said...



Christa said...

Now why would you want 6:00 church??? I dont understand anyone wanting. It cuts into the afternoon nap--you barely get dinner done and put away when you have to get up and get ready to go. I MISS long Sunday afternoon naps!!!!!
I remember Nadine telling that story.

Mark said...

True, I like my Sunday afternoon naps :-) - but if we go to the Bible Study/youth focus/kids meeting, we already are there at 6:15 :-)

Kim M. said...

I think a home church would be good in a situation where you couldn't find a good church in your area... and wanted to bring about true reform (which is very hard to do in an established church).
A friend of mind in Alabama attended a home church for awhile, and they eventually built a nice-old fashioned looking church as a symbol to mirror their old-fashioned beliefs. They could not find something they felt
"comfortable" in which to rear their children. Home churches "can be" a form of church planting if that is the goal. I wouldn't even hesitate to do it if I were in an area with new-age churches where I would fear the indoctrination of my kiddos. Thankfully, for us, we have a great church so we don't need to do this (home churches) but I do know people who have, and at least in their situation, it has been a very successful type of reformation.
P.S. I used to attend "small group" on Wednesday nights when I was at Hobe Sound and it was like a breath of fresh air!