Because life is a series of edits

The Search for Church

In Seminary Tychicus on July 6, 2005 at 12:13 pm

Though it’s mid-week, Learner and his wife have Church-on-the-Brain Syndrome these days as they continue to try to find one here. Of course, it’s not that they haven’t found one; it’s that they have found more than one (actually, many more than one); thus, the problem.

What is so difficult about finding a church? For starters, Learner says, it may be the vernacular used in describing the process: “finding” a church makes the activity seem so much more elusive and mysterious than it probably needs to be, and this plays to the “grass will perpetually be greener” mentality Learner already struggles with. He prefers to think in terms of “identifying” a church, which takes away some of the pressure of visiting so many in hopes of not missing the absolute right one (which he is sure he would never “find” anyway).

Another complicating factor, Learner says, is the fact that churches are more different from one another than they are alike these days. This was not the case 100 years ago, when the amount of variation was minimal in terms of church building design, worship service direction, and even pastoral personality in the pulpit. Back then, church just was; today, however, every aspect of church is an element for variation and branding. This drives Learner crazy.

What else has been difficult? Considering the children always seems to muck things up a bit, not because it isn’t a necessary consideration, but because Learner and his wife tend to evaluate it so differently. From Learner’s perspective, that no child dies or gets pregnant, but merely learns a song or two as well as a short story from the Bible is about the extent of his expectation for children’s Sunday School.

For Mrs. Learner, however, there are higher expectations, namely all of the above being in place, as well as a stimulating craft, an engaging time of interaction, healthy snacks, timely diaper changes, a sense that each child is loved and looked out for on an individual basis, and absolutely NO cartoon animation featuring certain vegetables who sing and dance. It’s not that Learner disagrees with any of this; it’s just that the process and degree of evaluating it all each and every Sunday can be rather redundant.

Couple this with the quest for sound doctrine, authentic worship, and some semblance of community (another topic on which Learner and his wife have varying degrees of opinion as to need/want), and it’s a veritable coin-toss as to where and when the search for church might end. In a city the size of this one, the family could realistically attend a different church each and every weekend for the entire course of time they are in seminary. But this is not the goal, and this is not the plan. With a few more churches on their list to visit, Learner and his family hope to make a decision by the end of summer at the very latest, plug in, and never look back…for now, at least.

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