Friday, February 11, 2005

Church Shopping or Settling Down to Imperfection

Looking Around
We have several friends who have been church shopping for more than 10 years. Actually, we know lots of people like this. Most seem to be under 40, and constantly in search of just the right blend of hip worship music, sermons that encourage without threatening, and a latte bar that serves biscotti with just the right amount of crunch to it.

Ok, maybe not the last bit. However, constant church shopping eventually becomes sad, has a tendency to fracture our lives in Christian community, and can lead to behavior noted here. Many of these folks never seem to find the "perfect church". Come to think of it, the concept of a perfect church is a bit creepy. Just think of it. Everyone smiling and happy, no problems, really good snacks on the patio, no conflict, short and efficient committee meetings. Yikes! Does such a thing exist? Indeed, should it even exist? Discussion for another day.

Settling Down
There are those who final decide to settle in. And this is one of my favorite stories, given the changes our family has been going through these past months. During the past year, as our family has had to adjust to worshipping at a different place each week, something wonderful is happening at a small church in Pasadena.

Interestingly enough, there is a small group of Christian men who meet in an office suite directly across from mine in Old Town Pasadena. Each Wednesday, as I come to work around 7:30 AM, I can see the lights on in the suite across the hall. Ranging in age from mid 30s to mid 40s, these men have been supporting each other for a number of years. They have seen weddings, family struggles, and the birth of children together. One is a film maker, another a financial planner, a third a stock market investor. There is also a landscape architect, and a youth ministry worker. These are varied friendships that have lasted through a common bond in Christ. One member has a wife who is on the faculty of a seminary.

Interestingly, this group is also almost entirely comprised of several families that are very accomplished at church shopping. They have been visiting churches in our area for over 5 years. Stopping in to a new church for a couple of weeks, then moving on; never quite finding what they wanted. Never quite right. This porridge is too hot, that is too cool. Where is the "just right" bowl?

The Sanctuary of Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena

Finally, one Sunday not long ago, the corporate journey of wandering ended. This group of connected families that grew out of this small group... all agreed to rendevous at a small Presbyterian church in town, one that had been dwindling in membership for a number of years, with the congregation aging. To make a longer story short, they have decided, together, that finally they will settle here, in this little church, warts and all. God seems to be working in the hearts these families, as they have joined the church, and are beginning to sink down roots of faith in a congregation that is happy to welcome them. Pray for the members, old and new, of Knox Presbyterian Church. This could be a journey worth watching!
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