Friday, April 06, 2007

Shopping for the Perfect Church

National Review Online posts a must-read from Jennifer Graham on the subject of church shopping. It is at once confessional ("If church shopping were a felony, I’d no longer be able to vote"), exotic (Graham, like many Christian conservative writers and thinkers, is a Roman Catholic, an experience not shared by SWNID or, we expect, a majority of our gentle readers), amusing and enlightening.

Many will say "amen" to Graham's plaintive call for more discipline, focus and respect from participants in worship services. We will join in the amen, but we will also offer a sanctified "hmm" as well.

We SWNIDishly assert that church shoppers will never find what they are shopping for. We church-shoppers fancy ourselves looking for a church with members whose devotion to Christ will mirror our own exceptional devotion, not to mention our own impeccable tastes. But we forget that churches are full of sinners, of whom we are chief.

We recommend that Ms. Graham and her family stay put for awhile, go out of their way to establish some meaningful relationships with the jeans-wearing, Gameboy-playing, genuflection-impaired parishioners in the next pew, and begin in mutual confession to walk together in cross-bearing, by-fits-and-starts growing discipleship. And don't blame the priest, bishop, archbishop, cardinal, college of cardinals or pope for what you see. And don't blame the Bible college, if you happen to be a Campbellite. Logs and specks, you know.

There's more wrong with any church than what people wear or how much they sing. No amount of returning to a Latin mass or an old hymnal or a longer pastoral prayer will change all that. If you want to deal with the problem, start with yourself and really get to know those other people for whom Christ died while you're at it.

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