We've all got a mental image of the perfect church. In our hearts, we hope to find this place and attend services.
Here's mine; The building is white with a tall steeple and completely symmetrical. There's a choir, all wearing matching robes, an organist playing traditional hymns, a minister, also in a robe, standing in the front with a smile on his face. Families, consisting of Mom, Dad and two children, happily arrive together, a few minutes early so they can fellowship before taking their place in one of the pews. The service is exactly 58 minutes long with with two hymns, the offering, a few announcements, a 14-minute message that warms the heart, and a closing hymn. The pastor stands at the door to shake hands and say farewell to the congregation members as they head home to their perfect Sunday dinners.
This image makes me sigh...and smile. My actual church looks nothing like I've just described. We have a contemporary building and my pastor has never worn a robe. We have an organ, but also an electrical guitar, a drum set, and a few other instruments. Traditional hymns are a treat with contemporary music being preferred. The families come in all different shapes and sizes. We have single moms and dads, large families and small families, single adults, teens that come without their families and teens that arrive looking like hostages. Our services are anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours, depending on the week. The message is often convicting and even a little difficult to take as it challenges us to work toward renewing our minds and changing our behaviors. If our pastor tried to stand and greet each member as they left, he'd likely be caught into hours of conversation and counseling needs.
So, which is the perfect church? The answer is simple, it's the place where the presence of God is welcomed and celebrated. It's where people gather to take a moment to focus on the Almighty and remember that He is the reason for our everything. As long as that is happening in your place of worship, you are indeed attending the perfect church.