Today as I was browsing through the local paper I stumbled upon the page of church ads. Let me share with you some of their slogans.
"Scripture. Tradition. Reason."
"Loving God. Loving people."
"Hungry for His Presence... Thirsty for His Word."
from a church with an apparent arborical theme-- "Come grow with us."-- next to a picture of an acorn.
"Serving the Lord with gladness."
"At XYZ, we believe the key to a meaningful life is found in our relationship with God."
"The church of the welcome table."
"A place where you fit!"
"Study, growth, and support opportunities in a community of joyful Christians."
And my personal favorite-- "Doing life together."
I'm being overly critical. I know I am. I am way too cynical about church. I had a wonderful conversation today with a dear friend about the struggles of faith, and I told him that it seems like most of the time it's not God I have issues with but the church. It's the second half of that greatest command that really tries my faithfulness. Heck, I'd even take my neighbors before I'd take a lot of church folk.
This has really hit home for me recently because I am at a transition point in life where I am trying to decide what congregation I want to commit myself to. I was telling my friend today that there's way too much choice in everything in the US, not to mention churches. If I'm not totally satisfied at one church I just pick up and keep looking for what makes me happy. The problem with that thinking is that you start to believe it's really about what you want... fitting your preferences, your lifestyle, demographic, and comfort level.
Being a self righteous, pseudo-intellectual, I am afraid that I'm even more critical than the average church-goer. As I've thought about where I'm going to attend, I'm pretty sure that if I hold to this line of thinking I'll be attending the church of Me Myself and I.
Churching is rough for me. I think conversely, it's probably the easier aspect of spirituality for a lot of other folks. But God calls us to live in community for the benefit of ourselves and others, so I'd better get over my funk. Derek Webb says it beautifully in his song "The Church"--
I didn't come for only you, but for my people to pursue.
You cannot care for me with no regard for her; to love me you must love the church.
So I'll continuing to pray for an open heart to decide where I am going to attend. We'll see where it leads.
*my poke at the new emergent or postmodern or whatever term of "unchurched", for folks who we used to call pagans in the good old days. ;) oh shucks, jokes aren't funny if you have to explain them, right? oh well. :)