When churches resumed meeting in-person, the shoppers arrived. Churches were visited by people who had sampled various approaches to church online during the pandemic. They were looking for a good fit.
Good for them!
Most had a list of churches they planned to visit, one per week. They’d sample the sermons, the music, the people. Then they would … decide. Something. Maybe. Or maybe keep shopping.
When asked what they were looking for in church, they would say they wanted someplace where they could get what they wanted, though they weren’t quite sure what that was.
They’d be there one week, then never return.
Rachel Held Evans and her husband, Dan, went church shopping when they left their fundamentalist upbringing. They visited one church after another, found fault with parts of each one, and avoided joining any of them.
Rachel eventually realized she was looking for something that doesn’t exist: a faith community tailored exactly how she wants. Right message, right music, right people. A perfect fit for her.
Umm, good luck with that.
Church is something else.
Ideally, faith communities are places that invite us to share ourselves with each other. They stretch us, nurture us, challenge us, and give us the opportunity to learn together what it means to live as God’s beloved family.
When Jesus began his public ministry, he made an eyebrow-raising decision. Instead of going it alone, he formed a very diverse community of people who would gather, grow, disagree, learn, argue, encourage and irritate each other on a regular basis.
He taught that we experience God not only in our individual experiences but especially in community – two or more, as he put it. We share our experiences, our insights, our doubts, our struggles. Together, we grow.
Church is an invitation to grow together.
Ultimately, church isn’t so much about what we’re looking to get as it is what we’re looking to give. You know the saying: We only get out of something what we’re willing to invest in it.
We find a faith community committed to growing and learning and sharing and welcoming all God’s children, and we invest ourselves in it. To paraphrase Francis of Assisi, it’s in such giving of ourselves that we receive what we’re ultimately seeking.
For more information about Nexus UCC, you may contact Pastor Joe at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-252-5523.