I hate the term church shopping. I absolutely hate it but that's exactly what I've done for the past three Sundays. First off, it assumes that I am going to church to get something for myself, like you would go to Meijers to buy food or Target to buy, well, everything. I'm not. I'm going to church to worship God and serve him.
Yet it's so hard to know what church would be best (see, even the word best assumes some qualifications a church must meet to "suit" me and again, that is not what I want to be doing). So my subconscious starts to create a list of specifications and desires. You don't want it to be all college students or all grandparents. You don't want it to be all hymns or all Chris Tomlin. The sermon should be scripture-based not just a self-help guide read out loud. The list goes on and on and it makes me feel like a horrible person for even having it.
Second problem: there is some unspoken rule that you only have about 5 or 6 Sundays to "shop" churches and then you are being too particular or not receptive to the Holy Spirit or whatnot. I would absolutely love for the first church I walk into to be my home church and have a family there and feel like that this is where I need to serve God but it really doesn't work that way. Considering there are 25+ churches in the area, this puts a lot of pressure on the preliminary church selections and really, there is only so much you can find out about a church from its website. You can't get to know the people and see how authentic the worship is or if they will glare at you for not going to Sunday School (my experience this morning).
Perhaps the largest problem is that I don't know where I should be. I've grown up in the same church all my life and I'm just now realizing what a blessing and a curse that was. I love that I know almost everyone and have a history there and that the worship is authentic and the preaching is sound but that's all I've ever known. Do I limit myself and possibly God by choosing a church that is as North Oaksish as possible? I don't think that is smart but I feel like I keep measuring up churches to my home church in the back of my mind. I'm in a new place of life and what was right for me last year might not be the same this year. Or it might be. I honestly have no idea. So I'm back to the drawing board, or more accurately, the praying board.
This concludes my rant on churches and the "shopping experience". Thank you for reading.
P.S. Signs are really, really helpful and the lack of them is really, really frustrating.