I've been part of the same church community for the last 13 years of my walk with God. To say that the experience has been perfectly wonderful all throughout would be a big misguidance. The church, for the most part, has been messy, tough and even discouraging at times.
Sometimes a Christian might leave a church in search of a "better" one where they won't get hurt, where everyone loves unconditionally, where the pastor never says or preaches hurtful things and where the scent of the air fresheners are the exact kind we like. If you don't know it yet, that search might as well be listed along with a search for the Loch Ness Monster.
Perfect churches—I hate to admit—are a myth. Well, at least in the sense that we'd like them to be. While there is an expectation placed on churches to be loving, compassionate, non-judgmental and happy communities, that's not always the case. Sure a church community may have a great season every so often, but we can't deny that Christians can have their off days.
We might not be able to find a perfect church, but there is hope because there are thousands of churches today that are ideal.
What does an ideal church community look like?
An ideal church is not one that simply meets your needs but one that empowers you to walk in a powerful purpose. But there is a catch: It's going to cost you a little hurt every now and then. As Rick Warren says in "Purpose Driven Church," "Don't ask God to use you greatly if you're not willing to hurt greatly."
We are all called into a life of purpose and the church sets us up for that. But there will be a cost to pay and a cross to carry as we follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). Are you willing to be part of an ideal church and pursue that purpose?
An ideal church is not one that seeks uniformity, but unity. God makes every person unique and different so that we can all pursue a unique call and live a unique life. Who would want to live a life that is an exact copy of their neighbour's?
That's what an ideal church pursues: unity in the midst of diversity. This is because it's in our differences that we can strengthen each other. 1 Corinthians 12:1 reminds us, "There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ."
Your church community may not be perfect, but no matter what church you are part of, as long as Christ is at the centre and His grace is the driving force, things will work out just fine. We may not be perfect on our own, but Christ perfects us. He makes us strong in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and purifies us where we are dirty.
People in church may not be perfect, but Christ is. And if He's the reason that you are a part of a spiritual family, then chances are you might not need to find another church at all. Because we are Christ's bride, we allow His grace to become our reason to be part of a community.