My friend Jeff recently sent along his thoughts on finding the perfect church. As some of you are still looking, I thought you might find this helpful:
Since finishing seminary three years ago, I have spent a good amount of time looking for churches in which I might like to minister. Its really not all that different from looking for any job, and so I made a list of church qualifications...
1. The Senior Pastor must be a committed, reformed, presbyterian, evangelical, semi-liturgical, covenantal, bibliophile, with the same interests as me, who also challenges me to grow.
2. The staff must be good looking and agreeable.
3. The structure and make-up of the church must be explicitly biblical.
4. It should be in a good part of town, the members shouldn't sin too much, or too greivously. All the children should be well-behaved, and generally pastor themselves. Everyone should get along swimmingly, know and apply the Bible consistently, encourage and exhort one another regularly, dress in a style that makes me comfortable, and live happy middle class lives while still taking risks for Christ.
5. The music should be perfect, the sanctuary beautiful, and the golf course pristine. (Oh wait, now I'm thinking of the country club I want to join.) And there should be a Starbucks in the Narthex.
In short, I want to join Perfect Presbyterian Church (PPC, for short). The trouble is, I've had a good bit of trouble finding this church. In fact, it doesn't exist.
The reason it doesn't exist is because churches are made up of people like us. Sinners who are still in the process of being made holy, but with a long ways yet to go. But as James encourages us, "He gives more grave." And not only does this grace help us to humble ourselves and draw near to God, rather than fighting and quarreling, it is the same grace that is purifying His church. Though we are, in James' words, "an adulterous people," God is purifying us, making us into a perfect bride for his Son, spotless and pure. He is sanctifying his people, and we will one day be holy and without blemish.
We are a work in progress, and the reason we volunteer in the church is not because we like working with "adulterous" people, but because it is a privilege to help the bride get ready!