Pastor's Ponderings

     Looking for the perfect church family?

     You know...that place where the pastor preaches a soul stirring sermon every time he steps into the
pulpit
and is always where he needs to be, saying and doing exactly what needs to be done. Where every
member of the church is spiritually mature and responds to one another just as Jesus would. Where
everyone in the church is on fire for the Lord and using their spiritual gifts and talents in
ministry for the Kingdom. Where all are on the same page and moving in the same direction when it
comes to vision and purpose. Where everyone is welcomed with open arms and loved right into the
church family.

     You know...where there are no disagreements. Where no one is ever left out or ignored or slighted.
Where tempers never flare or harsh words are ever spoken. Where forgiveness is always offered and
embraced.
You know...where money is never mentioned and yet, there seems to be an abundance to do whatever
needs to be done.

     You know...the perfect church family...just like your family.

     In my early years of pastoring, I strived toward such a church family...believing it was possible.
It broke my heart when I would see how far short the church fell from that vision of the perfect
church. I struggled to understand why people would say no to opportunities to minister to others
when there was clearly a need. I got so frustrated when I would watch people treat one another
unkindly...especially as brothers and sisters in Christ. It ate at me when people were unforgiving
and held grudges. I inwardly stewed as I watched worship fall low on the priority list of people
who professed to love Jesus.

     Until I looked at my life...and realized I was very capable of responding to another person
inappropriately...unforgivingly. Until I recognized, even as a pastor I could allow my priorities
to get turned upside down. Until I looked at my family and saw that we have disagreements and don't
always say and do the right things when it comes to how we treat one another.

     Until I realized that every person who steps inside of a church building is a person on a spiritual
journey...and none of us are at the same point on that journey...ever. Some are genuinely seeking
and finding...some are growing and maturing...some have lost focus and are floundering. Some are
very mature in their faith...some are just beginning to discover what a walk with Jesus looks
like...and many others are somewhere in-between.

     All of this began to flow through my mind when I ran across a quote by John Calvin:
Whenever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it
swarms with many faults."

Stop looking for the perfect church. It does not exist on this earth,
Instead, be willing to join and be an active part of a church family...imperfect as it is...yet one
that is striving as best it can to become the church Jesus envisions it to be. Hold fast to and pursue the challenge of
the Apostle Paul:
     "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is
     God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."  Philippians 2:12-13

Striving side by side with you,

Pastor Joel