I came from a church home that was theologically sound, I loved the worship, and I was plugged in and involved in almost every possible way. I practically lived at church, so the idea of being completely uprooted and looking for my own church in college was pretty overwhelming.
I had always gone to church with my family, but they did not move to Mississippi with me, so now was the time when I had to decide for myself whether or not being a part of a church family was a priority for me.
I decided that it was. So beginning with my first Sunday at school, I started the long and exhausting process of “church shopping.” I went to a dozen churches in the area during my freshman year, mentally making note of key factors like worship style, theology, quality of pastor’s sermons, missions emphasis, areas to get plugged in, general community, college ministry, etc.
I had a mental picture of what I wanted my new church to look like, and I became very frustrated when I could not find it. Church became a stressful topic, and I dreaded Sundays because I had to figure out where to go to church and with whom I would ride.
I became apathetic and doubtful that I would ever be able to make a decision.
Eventually I realized that I was looking for a cookie-cutter replica of the church I had grown up in. I also realized that this does not exist. Every church is different, and my perspective in “church shopping” was all wrong.
I had been searching for a church that would meet all of my needs. I wanted to find a body of believers who could best serve me. I wanted a place where I felt comfortable and was uplifted daily. I was selfishly looking for a church that would fit in my comfort zone, but that is not what the church is.
The church is a body of believers who build one another up in all circumstances. It is a community of convicted and like-minded people who are broken and redeemed. It is a place to be stretched, used, and humbled. It is a place to teach and be taught, to encourage and be encouraged, to serve and be served.
As a student looking for a church home, I challenge you to get outside your comfort zone. I challenge you to find a church where you can serve and be of use. I challenge you to seek a church that is full of broken people who are vulnerable, humbly seeking the Lord and longing to be filled.
You will not find a cookie-cutter replica of the church you grew up in, but that does not mean there is not a place for you to call home.
– Chelsey Bennett, Contributing Writer