The title isn't a rhetorical question. I really genuinely want feedback on this, especially if you're somebody who thinks choice of church is important.
A brief recap for those who don't know: I've been working out church's place in my life for several years now. While I do currently attend a church, it is entirely out of social obligation. I go because I'm supposed to go and because my husband goes, but I've pretty much given up on expecting anything out of it. This isn't in any way a reflection on this particular church, but rather on the fact that I've never gotten anything out of church. By treating church attendance as a social norm-conforming task I must do rather than something actually beneficial for me, I can at least stop being frustrated by the fact that it never is visibly beneficial for me.
Given all that... does it really matter what church I attend?
I'm perfectly comfortable just choosing a church at random or simply going wherever Jacob wants to go.
How do you select a church when none of the usual criteria seem to matter?
- Corporate worship has never done a thing for me, so worship style doesn't make a difference to me.
- I'm highly unlikely to ever find a church that holds all the same Biblical stances as I do personally, so finding a perfect doctrinal match isn't going to happen. The few doctrinal issues that I would hold absolutely essential don't really help to screen many churches out, as Christian churches generally believe, for example, that Jesus is God.
- I've never been inspired by a sermon, so I can't seek out a specific style or format of speaker.
- I can't possibly judge from a few visits how I feel about individual church members and whether I'm likely to feel socially comfortable there, let alone make any kind of lasting friendship. It takes me years to make up my minds about people.
- Ministry opportunities of some sort can be found at pretty much every church, so there's not a lot to help me make my decision there.
So here's the question. How do I choose a church? Right now my policy is that I'll just follow Jacob wherever he wants to go, so that makes my decision easy, but let's suppose I was single and dealing with this. How should this affect my choices? Should I be more specific in my criteria, hoping that some day some of them will matter to me? If so, which criteria get top priority? Do I choose technically correct sermons over a comfortable social setting? Would it be better to choose a church I actually disagree with on several topics, assuming it'd be better to be challenged and have to think through stuff than agree with what's being said? Is there even such a thing as choosing "the wrong church for me" in this situation? Maybe I should continue assuming it really doesn't matter and just go wherever because it's probably not going to make any difference anyway.
I genuinely have no idea.
I hear people talking about making sure to choose the right church, but I'm no longer sure it makes a difference for me. I'm okay accepting that maybe I need to attend a church (though I still can't quite figure out why, aside from social obligations) but then I have to choose the right church. It's like asking someone who feels sick to their stomach what they want for dinner and then emphasizing that they have to make the right choice. My honest answer to that is, "Well, I'd rather not eat anything, but if I have to, somebody else should choose for me and I'll eat it because I'm supposed to. I already have to eat it, don't make me responsible for the choice too."
This whole post is coming off more cynical than I mean it to be. I'm not angry anymore that church doesn't work for me. (I used to be.) I don't even think I'm angry anymore that I probably have to attend church because of social reasons. I'm pretty resigned to all that. Now I'm just... pondering what this actually means for me on a practical level. And I would love to get feedback, especially from any of you who think it does matter what church you go to.