church shopping II - why?

Ok, so I ended my last post asking why you are part of your current church (or not part of one at all). If you haven’t paused to reflect on that, please do.

I’ve kind of cornered myself into offering more insight into the question. Yet I’m actually not overly concerned with the many valid reasons people pick (or don’t pick) to participate in a church (e.g. friends, church’s mission, teaching, creativity, calling, etc... Google “emergent church” or “missional church” or “church growth” and you’ll find endless links to articles, books, and blogs suggesting what composes a good church in the 21st century (with many bad reasons there I’m sure). It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to a few good reasons (so I won’t). And if you’re interested, Ryan’s got a good discussion brewing around the term “relevance."

I’m more concerned here with the actual process of choosing. Which brings me back to the “why “ question. Or really, the absence of the “why” question. I’m worried that in our culture of personal taste and shallow commitments, we choose first and ask “why” later (if at all). Choice before thinking. We join Facebook. We watch TV. We spend money. We get a job. We go to church. All these choices day after day.

And yet we’re bored. So finally, out of our frustrated boredom, we begin to question our choices. Yet so often, conditioned to choose, we simply replace one dissatisfying experience with another. We assess our bad choices, but then just rush to new choices. We don’t like our BlackBerry, so we get an iPhone. We don’t like “1st Church” so we try “2nd Church.” Choice may lead to some thinking, but our thinking still relates to the act of choosing. As I quoted in my last post, choice becomes a state of mind.

But what if we exercised some patience (Gal. 5 anybody?!?) in how we lived our lives? What if we stopped to ask “why” more often? And what if we applied this patience to our church shopping?

And in our patient querying, what if we began to see the church for what God intended it to be?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Col. 3:12-17 NIV)

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