Monday, 23 February 2015

Finding the Right Church

There’s no such thing as a perfect local church congregation, but there is surely such a thing as a right one. Consider this quotation from Ruth Scott:

If a community functions well it enables its members to continue to grow and develop with the logical expectation that they may reach a point when they need to move on into a different type of communal space.

Ruth Scott, The Power of Imperfection (London: SPCK, 2014), p. 27

I’ve been somewhat judgemental about people who leave a particular local church to go to another, especially if the motives for leaving involve worship ‘preferences’ and entail substantial travelling to attend the services. No doubt part of my own reasoning here is that I feel I cannot do the same; that I believe I’ll be judged (by others? by me?) for wanting to worship somewhere I feel at home. But Scott’s The Power of Imperfection is proving to be an interesting read about what we expect from the communities in which we live and worship. And this leads me to ask an important set of questions: If I am part of a local church where I do not truly feel at home, am I truly part of that local church? If I do not subscribe to my local church’s particular expressions of worship and mission, or if I find it difficult to identify with them in some way, then should I seek to worship elsewhere in a local church that allows me to indulge my own interests or creates space for me to use my talents? What’s the balance, or how do I find the balance, between being taken out of my comfort zone and being granted the necessary safety to grow as a human person and in Christlikeness? And are there ‘seasons’ during which it’s acceptable to worship in one local church, the right one for the time, before needing – and let me emphasise that word: needing – to move on?

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