As I’ve been trying to start a church, I’ve thought a million times about why people choose a place to worship. And then I have to scratch that list, throw it away start over.
Proximity? Actual physical location? Preaching style? Worship style? Connection with the pastor? Friends? Song choice? Nursery? Parking? Community groups? Doctrinal standards?
I can’t seem to make any real sense of it. I think people have a million reasons and they don’t even know what all of them are. Church is a strange thing because it is something you don’t have to go to, but you’re told you should. It’s something that you can become a member of. It’s something you give money to, but you’re not really buying something. It’s something you are connected to, but you may not get a vote. It’s something that holds as a value the metaphor of being a bride.
Churches have scarring stories in people’s lives. I hear them all the time, those church hurt stories. I don’t hear too many redemptive church stories, the ones where the church really came through and made all the difference.
It feels to me like people either over-estimate and over-do the value of church as if it were everything and the all and all, or else they just completely throw it out altogether and don’t want to have anything to do with it. Or perhaps both at the same time.
In Love Illuminated, author David Jones says that two people who are falling in love cannot ever know for sure if they are right for each other. He says, “But for many, love is more about finding a rightish person and then trying to figure out if what the two of you have together is enough for love.”
I suppose I’d like to be for sure your church. I’d like for it to be love at first sight. I’d like to get you and have you get me. I’d like that instant connection.
But I’d take right-ish. I’d take that it might take some time for us to figure it out, struggle through, make it work and then go from there. We may understand the whys and ins and outs, or we may not. I’m going to be glad you’re here and keep showing up and maybe we’ll eventually understand it together.