Finding the Perfect Church
“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”– 2 Corinthians 4:7
After I retired from active pastoral ministry my wife and I were ecclesiastically homeless for a few years. We went to church, but we couldn’t commit to one.
We sometimes felt like Goldilocks at the Bears’ residence. One congregation had good preaching, but not so great music. Another had terrific music, but the sermons were on the light side.
This period was an unhappy time in our lives, for we are serious “church nerds” and needed a church home. We knew there was something unfaithful about “church shopping” and being, to use Eugene Peterson’s phrase, “tourists and not pilgrims.”
The problem was there was no perfect church. Thomas More coined the word Utopia in 1516 to describe a perfect society on a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. Utopia in Latin means “not a place.”
There has never been and there never will be Utopia. There is no perfect congregation, just the ones we’ve got, full of imperfect people that God loves and calls to be the church. And we knew ourselves well enough to realize that if we ever found the perfect church, as soon as we joined it, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore.
Holy One, bless us all in your church with your extraordinary power, that through your imperfect people, your perfection may shine brightly for the world to see.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.