The Perfect Church Pipe Dream

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Church, Thinking
Tags: , , , , ,

Last Sunday was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Jamie and I had some of the best laughs over absolutely nothing. I really love my wife. She’s an awesome woman and she really keeps me going in a lot of ways. We started out our Sunday like normal: Woke up, got our coffee, and Jamie got ready for church while I cruised the internet. I read a couple of blogs that really jump-started my day. The first was my one friend Ben’s guest blog on a college-age ministry’s blog. The post was titled, “Commit to the Local Church.” It is a great short read and does a decent job at describing young adults inside Churchianity. After I read that post, I scrolled down to another post put up by David Santistevan called, “How to Love the Church”, which was adapted from a conference message by Kevin DeYoung. I really enjoyed this one as well. Please read these two blog posts, especially if you would consider yourself a young adult. Here is the excerpt from Kevin DeYoung’s message. (I only include it because it’ll help you understand the rest of this post.)

To close out his Next 2010 conference message, “The Church,” Kevin DeYoung gave a list of suggestions for how to be a difference maker in the local church. He said:

• Find a good local church.
• Get involved.
• Become a member.
• Stay there as long as you can.
• Put away thoughts of a revolution for a while.
• Join the plodding visionaries.
• Go to church this Sunday and worship in Spirit and truth.
• Be patient with your leaders.
• Rejoice when the gospel is faithfully proclaimed.
• Bear with those who hurt you.
• Give people the benefit of the doubt.
• Say “hi” to the teenager that no one notices.
• Welcome the old ladies with the blue hair and the young men with tattoos.
• Volunteer for the nursery.
• Attend the congregational meeting.
• Bring your fried chicken to the potluck like everybody else.
• Invite a friend.
• Take a new couple out for coffee.
• Give to the Christmas offering.
• Sing like you mean it.
• Be thankful someone vacuumed the carpet for you.
• Enjoy the Sundays that “click.”
• Pray extra hard on the Sundays that don’t.
• And in all of this, do not despise the days and weeks and years of small things (Zechariah 4:8–10).

I cannot recommend this message too highly. Please take time to download and listen to “The Church” by visiting the resource page at thisisnext.org.

I just found it to be providential that I read those articles at exactly this time in my life. Jamie and I met at a different church that we no longer go to. We both served on the worship team there. I used to serve at a different church before that and a different church before that. Jamie and I are currently serving at a youth group that is presently not our home church. Our home church happens to be another church, that’s not even in the same denomination (crazy I know). But isn’t this the story with a lot of young adults? Isn’t this the story for many Christians nowadays?

We go to one church for community, then we go to another for their music. We may serve at one church and then get our spiritual food from podcasts! (Don’t get me wrong; I love podcasts. I’m currently in John Piper‘s Romans series. I think there are 224 messages in this series. We still need to be fed from OUR pastor,) As young people who have always had a million different options for everything in life, so it’s hard to find THE PERFECT CHURCH.

We all know subconsciously that there is no such thing as the perfect church. I call it THE PERFECT CHURCH PIPE DREAM. Wikipedia’s definition of pipe dream is, “a fantastic hope or plan that is generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve, originating in the 19th century as an allusion to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes.” What have we been smoking people?!?! (lol) We want that perfect church; where the preaching is strong and sound doctrinally, the music really moves you toward a deeper connection with God, and where you feel accepted and welcomed by people of your age group, as well as other age groups (because there has to be a generational outpouring where the elder people in the church are sharing God’s wisdom and building up the young adults there). You want to be moved to love God deeper and also have a new family; closer than your own flesh and blood. These desires are all well intentioned and good. As a young adult looking for a good church, what do we do?

When we are searching for a new church, these are the three main areas I tend to assess:

  1. Preaching – God-centered, passionate, and helpful preaching. When you walk away from a sermon are you embracing Christ and what He’s done for you on the cross to a greater degree?
  2. Music – Somewhat similar to the preaching. Are you experiencing Christ through song? Are the songs biblical? Are the worship leaders talented. Even if the group isn’t that talented, can you tell they love worshiping Jesus?
  3. Community – Does the congregation feel like family to you? Are you growing in fellowship among other believers there? Can you be the guy or gal in the back that slips in your church activity without any interaction with other people? (Hopefully not.)

We all know that most churches struggle in one or more of these areas. After thinking about this the last couple of days, I think I have it figured out. You have to assess what you can and cannot change. For me, I know that I cannot change the heart or personality of the pastor, but I am a musician and I can be a pretty personable and hospitable person. Maybe, as a part of the body of Christ, because I have been given gifts for a special purpose, (Eph. 4:12) I can help in those specific areas.

Some advice that I feel may help young adults is this; get under leadership and church authority that you can see yourself supporting and standing behind. If you can’t support the main pastor and his vision (whether that vision be verbally expressed or visibly observed), it wont matter how awesome the music is or what a tight knit family you have become. Then after that, assimilate and let God show you your role in the body of Christ.

When I stumbled across that Kevin DeYoung post it really convicted me to just jump all the way in with the church we’re at now. I read that and I felt like maybe God was trying to tell me something. The first four points hit me fast and hard:

• Find a good local church.
• Get involved.
• Become a member.
• Stay there as long as you can.

I have found an awesome home church now. The pastors preach God-centered, Gospel saturated, Christ exalting sermons, the music is decent, and Jamie and I have been shown a great deal of hospitality from so many people, including the head pastor, affiliate pastor, worship leader, youth pastor, and the seminary pastor. Most importantly in my book; I know I can stand behind my pastors and their vision. The perfect church does not exist this side of heaven. We are the church that is being perfected. Ever wonder why one church might be lacking in an area? Maybe its because all of the missing pieces haven’t been brought together yet. Maybe YOU are one of those missing pieces. If everything was perfect, then you wouldn’t be needed and that just creates a consumer/onlooker attitude. Get engaged and connected. What are your talents that God has given you? Get in a church and commit and God will continue to work out all the details. To quote another one of my friend’s blog, “Stop going to church! Be the church.”

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Comments
  1. Caleb Ashton says:

    Nice post Chris. I finally got to read it and I’m glad I did.

  2. Benjamin Davis says:

    Just a thought… if the staff would not have paid you so much attention, would it still be your home church?

    Do we attend churches because we are valued there? Is that selfish of us? Just a thought, and you know I want you at my Church so… haha hope that keeps you thinking.

    • I definitely think I would still call it my home church had no one paid attention to us. There is something amazing about Hebron that I have never experienced at any other church. The pastors put forth the message, “You are valued here. Come be apart of our family and let’s grow in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.” I believe that everyone wants to be somewhere where they are valued. I don’t think that’s selfish. Like I said in my post, I finally have found the elders and pastors that I can stand behind, we are building great relationships with each other, and Jamie and I have found our home. We have finally found the place where we can serve but we are also being served and edified by the rest of the body as well. I know you want me at Sharpsburg haha and I will be there as long as the Lord allows it. Like what Caleb preached last week ya know? Lord willing, I will be there.

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