A strong wind was doing interesting things with the clouds last Sunday, when I took this photograph. The church in the picture is not the one that Doug and I attend. Actually, the shot was made from our church's parking lot.
As I thought about that, I thought about the reasons that different people choose different churches. For three years, Doug and I drove 30 miles to attend church in another town. While we were doing that, a couple from that town was driving the same 30 miles in the opposite direction to attend the church we're now attending with them.
I suppose most often a church decision is made based on the attributes of a particular pastor. Some look for one with an ability to teach the Word of God clearly and with application for daily life. Some may reject a pastor with good teaching ability in favor of one with good people skills. The ideal is when both traits exist in the same individual.
Some may look for a church in which the people are friendly. That should be the case among all Christian churches; but, sadly, it isn't always the norm.
In today's church culture, a big factor in choosing a church is often the type of music used in worship. Many churches today have adopted non-traditional music, usually played at great volume and with a pounding beat. Many people seem to be drawn to this type of music. Others prefer what they consider to be the more worshipful music and theology of the traditional hymns.
Local churches exist in such abundance that it's easy to just move on when a disagreement arises over church policy or in personal relationships within the church. The argument can be made that it's better to just move on than to cause division in the church. There's something to be said for that. But I don't know if moving on is always the answer. It is, however, a fact of life in today's culture.
And that reminds me of this story:
A man had been shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. Years went by, and his hope of rescue began to wane. Still, he always kept a signal fire ready to light as he watched continually for any ship that might approach.
Then, one day, miracle of miracles, he spotted a ship on the horizon. He quickly lit the signal fire and began jumping up and down and waving anything he could find to attract the attention of the ship's crew. Slowly but surely, the ship began to come closer; and the man knew that rescue was finally at hand.
A landing boat came ashore with the captain and a couple of crew members. They couldn't believe what they were seeing.
"How long have you been living here?" asked the captain.
"I'm not totally sure," replied the man, "but I think it's been around five years."
"Is anyone else on the island?" the captain inquired.
"No. No one but me," the man replied.
The captain looked puzzled and asked, "Did you build that structure over there on the left?"
"Yes. That's my home," said the man. "I built that to live in."
"Well, what's this structure next to it?" the captain asked.
"Oh, that's where I go to church," replied the man.
The captain pointed off a little distance and asked, "What's that structure over there?"
"Oh," replied the man, "That's where I used to go to church."