Recently, I read an article about a guy who checked out 6 different denominations in a row. His goal seemed to be just to get a feeling of what else was out there, besides the Baptist Church he’d attended for 30 years. It’s a decent article, entertaining at points, and a reminder that we may be surprised what actually inspires someone to return after a visit.
Sounded similar to other people who have done similar things, for other reasons: The Friendly Atheist, random support groups, authors looking for inspiration…you could Google to find more if you want. It’s just about as trendy to church-hop, and share your experiences these days as it is to share your view on a new movie that just came out.
In the best cases of these…it’s someone who honestly is searching for something. Not to write about. Not to research. Not to exploit. But to live.
I’m not knocking these things, really. But I think I might knock how we (or I) read them. We can read these writings, and usually it points us (or me, at least) in directions of how to “do” church differently, so that it will appeal to these types of visitors who may be coming in, AND out of our doors. I think that can be good.
But I also think in reading these types of reviews, something else is revealed. Something about “how/why” we need to be involving ourselves in these communities. I think “communities” is a key word in understanding that. These “one-visit-review” mentalities can easily become our mentality in attending the services our communities observe…and we make judgments about even our own church based on a single experience…or even a few.
Yeah, the music can be (too loud/too soft) sometimes.
Yeah, our 3 pastors can all be dorks most of the time. (and say the right thing, the wrong way; or the wrong thing, with a right heart)
Yup, there will be older people who scowl, and younger people who show disrespect.
Yes, we aren’t current enough, and we don’t pay enough attention to our heritage.
But my best experiences of what’s going on here have been when I attend from a honest search for something to LIVE. Not when I’m looking for a 5-star sermon. Not when I’m looking for Crowder-esque worship times. Not when I’m looking for God to say exactly what I wanted to hear.
What I’ve found is an honest community (but still human), that is willing to say “let’s live together, seeking God”….and found that stands above any music, preaching, friendly greeting, or free donuts I’ve had so far.