By Amy Gaasrud | Contributor
The phrase "church shopping" is used commonly at Taylor. The idea is simple: visit different churches until you find one that suits your needs. A church shopper tries on churches like a teenage girl tries on jeans.
As a church shopper my freshman year, I needed to find the one that suited me.
At the first church I tried, a huge choir led exuberant worship with hand-raising and "amens" throughout each song. The pastor gave a powerful sermon, passionate and applicable. I left thinking, "The worship was a little big for me, but the rest of the service could fit well."
Another church. Here, there's a single worship leader. The songs flowed from joyful to subdued, but all were hymns. The pastor delivered a great message, full of convicting truths and hope for change. People greeted me warmly after the service, and I walked out musing, "I could make this work. I wish the songs were a little more stylish, though, the worship was a little small on me."
At another church, the worship seemed perfect. Led by a small group of talented performers, the worship mixed contemporary songs with a few classics. I admired the building as I sat to listen to the pastor. An hour later, he had yet to wrap up. I couldn't remember the point of the sermon, and if I stayed much longer I'd be late for a meeting. I snuck out the back thinking, "That was such a good fit. If only it hadn't been so long!"
I began to realize that with each church I tried on, something was not quite right. Like the perfect jeans, the perfect church is impossible to find. Some imperfection will always be present, if only because we live in an imperfect world. Perhaps the jeans' legs are too long, the flare too big or the waist too small. Perhaps the style isn't what I'm used to.
If we require a church to be a perfect fit, we may never find the "perfect" church. Instead we will search indefinitely or worse, quit searching all together.
The problem starts with our culture. We are a people obsessed with ourselves. Too often we require our "needs" to be met before anyone else's, and I am as guilty of this as anyone. I want to be served before I am willing to serve. Why should I give time and money to a church that doesn't fit me perfectly? Perhaps because I am called to do so.
As I church shopped, I began to understand that my brothers and sisters in Christ aren't perfect but that I am called to serve them anyway-called to love, to pray and to work toward becoming better as a whole body of believers. Sometimes this means the church God leads me to doesn't match what I envisioned, but God is excellent at coming up with creative solutions. As I integrate myself into a church community-serving, loving and worshipping-He uses that community to meet not only my known needs but also the needs and desires hidden within my heart.
Perhaps if we changed our language, it would be easier to find a church. If we "searched" instead of "shopped," if we looked for a church that seeks to fulfill God's will instead of a church that fulfills our desires and meets our preferences and if we sought a church in which we could serve others instead of a church that would serve us, then maybe-just maybe-we could find the church where we fit.