Are you looking for the perfect church? Often, we hear from people who are seeking a new church home. Some have moved to another city or parish. Others hope a new church will reignite their faith. Many are looking for the perfect church. The trouble is, a perfect church doesn’t exist.
And as one old preacher used to say, “If you ever find one, don’t join it or you’ll ruin it!”
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a body of believers (church) you can grow with, worship with, and serve with for God’s glory. If you seek God’s will and pray for guidance, you’ll find a church that offers what you need, especially the teaching, programs, and activities that will keep you and your family growing in your faith. And you’ll be more inspired to invite friends along.
But first, let’s consider what a church should be. Indoor play areas and super-cool coffee bars are great; but remember, they aren’t core functions of the church.
Instead, focus on the foundation, particularly how the church views Scripture. Does it believe the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God? Is the preaching filled with feel-good platitudes, or is there a strong commitment to solid biblical teaching? Are visitors welcomed as brothers and sisters in Christ?
Thousands of churches call themselves “Christian,” but it isn’t always easy to find Jesus there. When you visit a church, ask where it stands on the creeds of the Christian faith – the virgin birth and the divinity of Jesus; His birth, death, and resurrection; His promised second coming?
Finally, what happens after the Eucharistic celebration ends? Do members of the congregation actively live out their faith? Or do they tuck it away with their Bible until the next Sunday? James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” It’s hard to get in shape spiritually if you only work out on Sunday.
God doesn’t want His children to travel through life alone. He wants us to be a part of something larger, where we grow in His Word, find friendship and support in our journey of faith, and shine together for Christ. That’s what He designed church to be. As part of a church centered on Jesus, we minister to one another. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” We have come to understand here at Holy Family Parish that faith does grow in a circle of people talking, supporting and sharing faith.
Focus on finding a missional church and become an active part of it. Serve in any way you can. Grow in your faith. Bring others to Jesus. And do it all for the glory of God. We need a missionary church, rather than a perfect church. Even if we were to come up with a transformed church, if the wider community does not benefit, we will have “failed”. We will have failed because we will have failed to be church. Pope Francis keeps reminding us to stop being preoccupied with ourselves and to go out into the streets as missionary disciples prepared to get dirty and bruised. There we will find renewal and transformation.
We must remember that the goal of mission is not primarily about the expansion or perfection of the Church, but the revelation of God’s love and realization of God’s liberating plan for the universe. It is a plan for a “Kingdom” larger than the Church. Mission is God’s project and we are not the main actors. The Church is neither the starting point nor the end point, but rather the servant and sacrament of God’s mission. “We are challenged to be people of depth, attentive to what is happening around us and spiritually alert.” According to Pope Francis those things are more likely to convert and renew us than a forensic examination and reform of the Church.
You can be sure I am praying for you to find the right church home where you can be part of God’s mission.
Fr. László Nagy