How to Shop for a Perfect Church

Greetings to all looking for that perfect church!  It would appear that so many guides exist for finding the right home, college, job, and even pair of sunglasses.  It is time that we have a guide to finding the right church.  Somewhere there must be the RIGHT church for you.  With so many different churches, denominations, sizes, and styles there must be a church that fits YOU perfectly.  So, let us try to find not only the RIGHT church but the PERFECT church as well!

First, we must remember a basic premise in looking for a perfect church.  This is about YOU.  Never mind what the church asks about you, for you, or of you.  The perfect church cares about you, caters to you, and makes sure your needs are met first.  When you enter that perfect church, you will find everyone happy all the time.  Every single person in the church will recognize you are a visitor and take notice of you, yet not make you uncomfortable by greeting you too vigorously.  An appropriate number of them will come and warmly greet you, hand you a cup of you favorite beverage (without even needing to ask you what beverage you like).  The service will begin when you arrive.  Even if you are late, the perfect church waits for you.  Additionally, no matter how on time or late the service begins, the perfect church service will be completed in one hour, no longer.  If a church service continues past the hour, you know that is not a perfect church.

The perfect church will have an amazing children and youth ministry.  They will have engaging leaders who will take your children, occupy them, and teach them everything about the Bible they ever will need to know.  In a perfect church you do not need to help with the children or youth ministry.

In the perfect church you will find the music to be exactly the type of music you like.  The singing will always be on key and in tune.  The speed of the music will always be correct and the music will never be too loud.  No one ever goes to sleep during the perfect church service.  The preaching will always be relevant, never too deep, and the pastor will never use a Greek word you do not understand.  The preaching will never last longer than 15 minutes.  In a perfect church you will enjoy the preaching but it will not disturb you to change your life.  Remember, the perfect church meets all of your needs.  You do not need to change for it.

The perfect church will be very close to your home.  They will never ask you to serve on a committee, team, ministry, or go on a mission trip.  The perfect church will be filled with perfect people who are always joyfully available, able, and ready to do anything that helps make life better for you, no matter how busy their schedules may be.

And here is what you must do when you find the perfect church.  The moment you find it, please exit as quickly and as quietly as possible and never go back.  The problem with finding the perfect church is that unless you are perfect too, you’ll make the church imperfect.  You will ruin it.

Instead, I recommend you find a church that is not perfect.  This church will start when it starts.  A service may go long, but perhaps it is worth it if the preaching is engaging, the singing is worshipful, and the children’s time hilarious since the kids keep talking.  The preaching may make you uncomfortable, excited, or emotional.  In this imperfect church the people may have frowns and occasionally cry, but then its okay for you to cry as well when you have had a bad week, terrible news, or real life events.  After all the imperfect church lives in the real world.

The imperfect church will have an imperfect pastor.  He or she may occasionally get a name wrong, miss an announcement, preach too long, or forget to call you.  They may even make a mistake.  They will love Jesus, love you, and care deeply about the church.  They will try to serve you as best they can and they, just like you, are growing too.

In the imperfect church you will find the children and youth ministry may not be perfect for your child, but they do love your child.  They try as best they can to teach your child about Jesus.  They may even need or ask for your help.  While this eats into your valuable time, you may find you actually enjoy getting to know other volunteers and children.  You may find you actually want to lead in the ministry.  Perhaps some day you will be asking someone else to come volunteer!

And the imperfect church will not be, as agonizing as this sounds, about you.  This church will be about someone who is perfect: Jesus.  They will tell you that they love and forgive you no matter how bad you’ve been.  They will share words of hope even when you’ve been told words of despair.  They will meet sadness with joy.  They will be there with you through the tragedies, the mountaintops, and the little milestones that life brings you.

The imperfect church will make mistakes too.  They may gossip, get offended, or say hurtful comments.  Yet because this church is about Jesus there is more than enough forgiveness and love to cover those momentary troubles.  If there is any place that healing can be found, it is in the imperfect church where we are all healing, learning, and being perfected in Christ.

The real church will show you Jesus because they are Jesus for you.  They are the hands and feet of Jesus.  If you find an imperfect church, I invite you to stay there.  Put down roots.  Invest yourself.  You may just find it is a community where you can do life together.  It is a place where you can grow together.  That is the church for you: the people of God worshiping the one true God.  Hang in there!  I’m just certain that church is not far away.

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Published by: Brad Kirk

I'm an ordained Elder in the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and serve as pastor of Leoti UMC in western Kansas. I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. I love being a husband to Diana and a father to Tobin. Most of all I am a child of God!

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