Yesterday I commented on The Problem of Protestant Ecclesiology -- generally and specifically the post of that name by Daniel Wallace. In this piece and another, Wallace writes, “The ideal church can’t exist.” If I understand him correctly, I agree. While there is an ideal church concept in the Bible, a real church with real people will never be ideal. Actual congregations are hotbeds of redeemed sinners on whom God is still working.
Thinking on this today, I was struck with the similarity of looking for an ideal church in a world of churches and looking for a straight board in a bundle of 2X4's. I guess I'm a stickler for "straight" whether it's churches or lumber. Every once in awhile I conceive of a project -- which always requires straight 2X4's. So I head out to the lumber yard to find the same. After having put an eagle eye down the edges of half the bundle,* my standards begin to change. Having looked at a hundred or so bowed, warped, and twisted boards, I sadly realize -- another bundle of 2X4's without a perfectly straight one amongst them. The ideal 2X4 doesn't exist! So the new goal becomes not a perfectly straight 2X4, but one that is only slightly bowed from one end to the other -- nothing twisted or warped badly, and certainly nothing that would excel as a rocking chair bottom. If I don't find the ideal, I'll settle for what is the best among the less than perfect.
"Settling" might not be a good term regarding finding a church home. But as Wallace says, the ideal church doesn't exist. If our standards are too straight we'll not find a congregational home. And we should find one. We need it. The assembly of God's people that you visit may have a few splinters, knots, and cracks. It might be a little too hot or too cold at times. It may not be perfectly plumb and square. Avoid all those that are twisted and warped, but exhibit wisdom, mercy and grace in your search, hoping to find the best among the less than perfect. (And as they say, if you DO find the perfect church -- don't join it, you'll mess it up.)
*If you pick through lumber, please re-stack it.