20080409

The Perfect Church

It is my opinion that there is one more myth that can join the ranks of things like the Holy Grail and the Fountain of Youth. That would be the Perfect Church. I don't believe it exists. At least, not this side of Heaven.
A little over ten years ago my beloved and I were going through a "church crisis". Our first child had been born and we were seeing things that were disconcerting. Not only a lack of fruit (Gal 5:22-24), but on a few occasions I found the Pastor taking verses out of context. Like he was trying to cram in scripture to back up whatever story, or point, he was trying to make. After meeting with a Pastor on the staff of the church we began to look for another church to call home. While on a mini-retreat to try and seek out where God would have us go I remember looking down into the Cumberland valley and trying to grasp how many churches there were down there. Then I remember feeling like God was telling me that He was at work in each and everyone of them. It did not matter if it was Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, or "non-denominational". It did not matter if it was large or small, 'alive' or 'dead'. I was worried about leading my family to a spiritually 'dead' church, or something much worse.

We ended up going back to the church I was saved in, Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. For almost three years we commuted over 50 miles while I half heartedly looked for another local church for us to attend. Finally we moved to Frederick, MD. But even there we had a hard time being involved more than on Sunday's. Even for our bi-weekly care group we had to drive down. Although we never felt very well connected the church itself supported my beloved and I when I was deployed in 2002. Although our care group started out well, their support seemed to wain after only about a month. Shortly after I came off of active duty in '03 we moved to where we now live.

We found a church we loved, and one that had many more activities for our children and family, as well as one we could serve in (as we now lived less than five miles from the building). It has come to pass where I am now seeing some disconcerting things within this church that has brought me to where we are now praying about what to do. If we are to move churches again or not. I am mostly grateful that God has me and my family where we are not able to just up and leave. With our current obligations within the church we need to be patient, pray, and seek God. This will help us really be more responsive and attentive to what God would have us do.

I guess what has prompted this post is that I am at the very least a little discouraged. The first church I mentioned was torn apart (over a long period of time) by a Pastor who was very good a deceiving those around him. When his sins came to light it caused a huge rift, as well as leaving the church in a very bad spot (by God's grace it is well on its way to a good recovery - so much so we are considering going back).

The second church was a Sovereign Grace Ministries church. While I know there is no perfect church out there, I really liked the accountability that the Pastoral staff had. The integrity was palpable. That being said there are apparently people that have been hurt by this group of churches (SGM 'Survivors' is what they call themselves). While my family and I did not experience the things these people have seen/experienced, it is only fair to mention it here. Where my family felt the disconnect was in the lack of family activities for us to participate in, and an overall air (if you will) of "why would you want to go to any other church?". We also felt isolated because we lived so far from the church. While the Pastors we interacted with were concerned with our eventual move we never felt condemned for our decision. (SGM has since planted a church in Frederick, MD. The senior Pastor there was a man whom personally ministered to me and my family.) In many ways I am the Christian I am today because of this church.

I am not going to go into what is causing my current angst where we are going now. But I want to say that it is not a SGM church. I say this because my blog of 2-April inspired the invitation for me to check out the 'SGM Survivors forum. I know there is much that can be said about the Christian Church, but unity among the denominations is not really one of them. I do not have the answer to that dilemma, but I pray that God will show me and my family what we are to do.

If any of you should find the "Perfect Church" please let me know on the 'down low'. I promise not to attend. I'd hate to ruin such a thing, but I do look forward to attending The Perfect Church - once I am called home.
Verse for today:
Mark 3 : 23-27, ESV
And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

4 comments:

PJ said...

you're so right. There is no perfect church (says a pastor and pastor's spouse of 30+ years). Some of our former parishioners view this place as Zion -- the spot where they were the happiest and most involved, but now live in faraway places. Unfortunately, there are those others for whom we were not ..... whatever...enough. (You fill in the word.

Wish I had an answer for you!! Pastors are human; people are human; churches are comprised of human beings.

samurai said...

Thank you PJ. I am well acquainted with the "human element".

BigMama said...

I haven't been by to read in too long (sorry!), so I didn't realize you were going through this. I TOTALLY understand what you're going through, at least to some degree. I HATE being a church hopper, yet in the past 10 years, we've left 3 different churches (not due to moves, but for other reasons altogether). It can be so hard to know if leaving or staying is the "right thing." But know that you have my prayers during this transition.

samurai said...

Thanks Alise. I am not sure what God is doing in our lives (yet) through this, but I know He will see us through it.

It never does any good to look back and ask "what if"... we can only move forward and ask for His grace and guidance. :)