Last June I was personally informed by the company president that the branch where I had made my current career and earthly living was closing...for good...in 30 days. In that same meeting I was offered a position at the main branch in another city, an hour and fifteen minutes away. To make a long story short, I accepted the offer, packed up my family and moved from the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains to a city of over a million people. Big change. I'm sure there are many out there that can identify with job loss, job change, moving etc. It can be a trying yet exhilarating time. We trusted God's leading and away we went.
One of the first things we had to do after being settled was to begin our search for a gathering of the Body of Christ where we could fellowship. That search is all but complete but to be honest, it was a bit pain staking. So the 'search for the body' was on. What local church fellowship would we associate ourselves with? For fifteen years when I was the pastor, I didn't have to ask that question. I never had to look for a 'new church'. I was never faced with the decision of where to go. By going online and weeding out several choices and attending others, I found out that finding 'a church' to go to isn't as easy a task as I thought it might be.
I found that several churches out there focus on a doctrine or a teaching. It was evident in their online presence as they listed what they believed in, sought after in their gatherings and expected from their adherents. Without actually saying it, my impression was that if you didn't agree, well, don't bother.
Some churches were very traditional 'high church' experiences.
Some churches were of the smaller, home group type of experience.
Some churches were of the emergent bent where, after listening to an online sermon, I found it to be intentionally making things 'grey' instead of what I firmly believe to be more 'black and white' when it came to some things.
Some churches, after listening to online sermons as well as attending one Sunday morning service, were very seeker-focussed. This was disheartening to me as the gospel of Jesus Christ wasn't even mentioned. These were the churches where, in the delivery of the message, the scripture wasn't cracked open and expounded upon, but rather, used as backdrop stories to make a topical point.
But there's one church we've frequented on a number of occasions. It's different. The Bible is opened, taught, explained and delivered to people. Christ and his gospel are the core, the center, the main thing. The people go out of their way and lend a hand, help and assist with needs if they know of any. There's something that feels familiar about that. The word "familiar" means "acquainted with". But it can also mean "closely intimate or personal". How could I be a stranger somewhere among people I do not know yet feel acquainted?
The answer to that is simple. We are all part of the Body of Christ. It is his divine life that runs through all of us. When we run into a group of people that share the same DNA, the same life, the same Father, well, we all know what that is. It's called "family".