As some of you know, we are currently church hunting in Yakima. Coming from a world class church in Seattle (for lack of a better description) to a small town is hard. Our church in Seattle put out records, distributed teaching to thousands of church and has had millions of sermon downloads over the years. Churches in Yakima aren’t the same level. We are learning to adjust our expectations. Jesus’ expectation for us to love the local church still applies even if the music is marginal and the preaching is just ok.
Thus far, we have been to three churches. Today was the first time we revisited a church. I stepped out about ten minutes into the sermon with a really loud baby, just like usual. (I’m not going to leave my son with strangers in a daycare, especially when not all background checks provide complete information. But that could be another blog in itself.) From start to finish, the service was about an hour and fifteen minutes long and both walked out a little disappointed and with the same realization.
It struck both of us today that if we went to this church, it would just to check off a box. It would be totally out of religious obligation. Not to say that we couldn’t love this church. But we both believe that just getting involved with church isn’t actually what the Bible defines as church. There isn’t an ideal size church in Scripture. Churches aren’t perfect. However, singing some songs, listening to a sermon and praying is not church. Heck, even being involved with every single ministry that the church offers and volunteering a dozen hours a week isn’t church. Unless we are in authentic community with people calling us out on our sin, we don’t get to check off the church box on our to-do list.
Growing up in church settings, I’ve been able to see firsthand what happens when people attend church but have zero accountability. I was that person for years. Sometimes that lack of integrity and transparency leads to a double life but more often than not it just leads to a hard heart and a prideful spirit. Where every Scripture condemning sin is for someone else, and every protagonist in Scripture is you.
It’s horrifying what a little hidden sin does to someone’s faith long term. It’s like mold. I’m sure that’s why Jesus told the Pharisees that they clean the outside but inside they are full of greed and wickedness.
It’s too dangerous to forgo community, accountability, transparency. Which is why we are going to continue our church hunt. Until we find community. Because anything else just won’t cut it.