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on church shopping

October 13, 2011

 “The sooner he figures out he’s just a booger-eating spaz like the rest of us, the better off he will be.”

A pastor buddy of mine said that about a guy who had left his church (Yeah, pastors sometimes say stuff like that). The guy had gone from church to church with a classic consumer posture. He had a list of requirements that the church needed to meet or else he wasn’t going to stay.   He hasn’t stayed at a church yet.

This pastor was able to see that with this consumer posture, there was a very subtle self-righteousness being nurtured. Basically, the church consumer guy was saying, “I need to find a community that is worthy of me.”

This is the pathway to spiritual death. It is to treat a congregation in a way that is entirely contrary to the gospel. It is a very concrete way of saying, “You must measure up before I will have you in my life.”

Now I’m not saying that there is never a good time to leave a church. Over the years I have counseled folks to leave our church and sent them off with a blessing. I’m also not saying we shouldn’t have standards when we are trying to find a church. If I was looking for a church, there would no doubt be churches that I wouldn’t consider joining.

But I am saying this: your relationship with churches will tell you a lot about what’s going on in your heart. Living out God’s grace means that we have to learn how to extend grace to individuals and to congregations. And to live this way is a place of great freedom. It’s a way of living where we take the gospel seriously, but do not take ourselves too seriously.

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