When Michala and I first moved out to Denver almost three years ago, we discovered the joy of church-dating. For the uninformed, this is when you attend a handful of churches and ‘try them out.’ When you find the one, you commit, just like dating. And just like dating, there are awkward churches, quirky churches, very attractive churches with no depth, and if you’re lucky, that perfectly imperfect place that just feels right.
Each time we visited a church we would quiz each other following the service, asking all sorts of questions to see if we both agreed in our admiration, apathy, or disgust. We would ask, “what did you get out of that?” This seems like a perfectly valid question, one that no doubt takes place every Sunday after church all over the country. What we implied in this question was how we were served: “was the preaching good?” “Did we enjoy the music?” “Did they have child care?” These are important questions to ask, but I now see they are also misguided questions to ask.
The core around which Sunday morning gatherings are centered is worship of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. Nothing more, nothing less. This can look a number of ways, singing, praying, conversation, thanksgiving, thinking deeply, but put simply it is an act of love.
Our worship has zilch to do with “what we get” and everything to do with what we offer. This is not another opportunity to feed our egos bloated by a system of consuming that makes us insatiable. We gather to give our meager lives together to the one who gives every good gift.
The receiving of good gifts comes with our every breath, each meal, each smile, and every child. The trees and the mountains are given to us to enjoy and it is only natural that we respond with praise. This is what Sunday morning is all about. Instead of asking “what did you get?” we can ask “what did you give?”
This giving goes far beyond our finances and demands our minds, hands, and hearts, our very being. And yet this is a free sacrifice, God does not look out at our confused, hap-hazard attempts to say thanks and say, “that’s it?” Instead he joins in the dance of giving and gives us the greatest gift ever, Himself.
Jesus hinted at this mystery of receiving in our giving, when he said that to find our lives, we must first die. When our weekly meetings become another opportunity to consume, we miss everything. Instead, let us have the mind of Christ who being God himself, humbled himself to execution and in the doing found himself seated at the right-hand of the Father and also found us all.
Michala and I did not settle for the “one.” We did not find our home until we found a church that would not let us remain comfortable, that forced us to give of ourselves, and asked a lot of us. We were too busy loving these imperfect people and loving a perfect God together to ask if this was the ‘one?’ It just was. I’ve come to realize there is no perfect church and this forces me to stop critiquing the church and simply commit.
May we seek to be a committed people, not seeking to be filled but to be emptied. To give back our money, time, energy, minds, and hearts and to maybe find a God who gives us everything we need.
Michael is the Pastor of The Church @ Argenta in North Little Rock, AR. He watched the super bowl and still isn’t sure what just happened.