WHEN WE FIRST started looking for a new church home upon moving to the Florida Panhandle, I jokingly suggested to Marcia that I’d be grading candidates according to the snacks they offered. Turns out that may not be such an invalid criteria.
Though we had been part of the same fellowship for many years, neither of us are committed to a particular expression of the body of Christ; we’re more concerned about what’s in the bottle than what’s on the label. We do want to be part of a local congregation, however, so that’s reduced our options a little—thankfully.
Truthfully, the last few weeks have felt a bit discouraging. Not that there’s anything horribly wrong with any of the places we have visited (though the Bloody Marys and mimosas served at one after-service Mother’s Day reception did take us a bit by surprise).
It’s more the lack of clarity. I’d hoped for a celestial beam or maybe a heavenly choir to make it clear when we arrived at the place God has in mind for us, but so far there has been no divine “You Are Here.”
As such, we have been left trying to hold lightly our own personal tastes and styles, while recognizing that a certain level of comfort and sense of ease isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a place where you plan to put down some roots. At times, it has felt like we have been auditioning for the next round of John Crist’s funny-ouchy Church Hunter videos (see here and here).
So reading again recently about the first days of the early church has been helpful. I was struck by the four things that the first believers “devoted themselves to” after the Day of Pentecost, according to the account in Acts 2:
* the apostles’ teaching
* the breaking of bread
Actually, I was even more struck by what was missing. No mention of worship or evangelism, two commonly-held high values of churches.
Admittedly, the Acts 2 church hadn’t been around long enough to develop different styles. No traditional, contemporary, cowboy or classical alternatives.
Nor was there any apparent emphasis on “outreach” because it seemed to be a natural outflow of their focus. Verse 47 notes that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Which takes us back to the four things to which those first Christians were devoted. Both fellowship and the breaking of bread—which probably refers not only to Communion, but shared meals—involve eating.
So my hovering near the donuts at church coffee time isn’t gluttony; it’s part of my discernment process.