Thursday, October 1, 2009

Called to Church

Several of my Presbyterian blog-comrades have recently struggled with the contemporary practice of church shopping. Church-shoppers are folks who hop from church to church, looking for the one place that perfectly meets their needs. It needs to have a well developed and professional program that focuses on their kids. It needs to have small groups....or not, if small groups make them uncomfortable. It needs to have a golden tongued pastor who by some miracle manages to both effectively lead and not have an ego bigger than his Jesus. It needs to be big, or not, but not too small, or not.

Church is approached as the primary product of AmeriChrist, Inc., and selected in the same way we pick out flat screen TVs or a cute little pair of flats.

Yesterday, though, something over at Tribal Church made me wonder if perhaps we should encourage folks to think about seeking congregations in another way.

It's not "shopping for a church." It's "discerning God's call." Yes, call. We pastorly types are always blabbering on about our sense of call, about how God has called us to ministries that just so happen to be larger and more prestigious and better paying than the one we're currently serving. That "what's-in-it-for-me" approach to pastoral calling is just not how God works.

It's also not how we as lay-folk should select the place we are to worship and serve. The question we should be asking as we try to find a community is: Where does God want me to go?

Where can I find the purpose of my life? Where can I be challenged? Where can I grow? Where will I develop into those gifts that God has given me? Where will those gifts be put to the greatest good...not for me...but for my neighbor? Call does those things.

So don't shop. Be called.