I’ve attended over a hundred churches. Most were visits while searching for “home.” Some were on trips spanning a weekend. And a few were simply to see what goes on in there.
Of the “home” churches, there were Christian Reformed, Brethren, Baptist, nondenominational, and Evangelical Free. The circle of “visited” churches stretches to include Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Church of Christ, and megachurch. We even visited a Unitarian church when I was young. As we left, my dad asked me what the sermon was about. “I couldn’t tell,” I confessed. “Exactly,” he replied.
There’s great equity in a “churched” history. You learn that Jesus Christ is the way to God. You get to know the Bible. And the community supports you with guardrails bounding the swerves of life, much prayer, good books, and real-life examples of saintliness.
Which isn’t to say it’s not bumpy. Hypocrisy, division, cynicism, and self-righteousness are ever present, and so are casualties. Families break apart, people drift off (or storm away), pastors come undone, and loneliness is not uncommon. After all, churches are comprised of broken people beset by self-interest. But not overcome by it. Church is a community of those who know grace and forgiveness, and never stop praying for one another. It’s the presence of Christ through His followers.
A churched history is a rich inheritance every generation deserves to receive — and it doesn’t take a hundred churches to receive it. As I’ve reviewed my journey, I’ve identified four themes* that wielded the greatest good in my life. If we were to move to a new city, these are the elements I’d look for in our next church. I’ll tackle one each for the next four posts.
*Matters of praxis, not doctrinal distinctives.