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If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you have probably heard this statement: “If you find the perfect church don’t join it because then it won’t be perfect.” In other words, “It is futile to search for a perfect church. It doesn’t exist. But if you actually could find one, it would no longer be perfect because you’re a sinner, and it would therefore be imperfect when you joined. Get a clue, Christian. You’re a sinner like all the rest of us.” This has a humorous ring of truth to for those whom we perceive are perpetually unhappy with churches. A more amusing story, however, is this one: The crew on a ship in the South Pacific saw a man alone on a deserted island, waving his arms to flag them down. Some sailors boarded a small rescue boat and sped over to the man. They found him in ragged clothes and underfed. Three little huts stood behind him. They asked him what the hut on the left was for.

“That’s where I live.”

They asked him what the middle hut was for.

“That’s my church.”

They asked him what the third hut was for.

“That’s the church I left.”

Mea culpa: I once thoughtlessly agreed with this meme of unhappy church hoppers. Ah, but I was so much younger—and unthinking then.

Well, since we are older and wiser—hopefully—let’s think about this unhappy-church-hopper meme for a moment. Will just any church that you join be satisfactory? Is it as simple as, “All churches are imperfect because they are full of sinners saved by grace just like you and me.”? Does it matter which church I join?

Of course, it does.

Should I just join any church full of sinners like me?

Of course not. Those who repeat this meme wouldn’t, either.

Do Catholics join Lutheran and Reformed churches? Why wouldn’t they? Isn’t the church full of sinners just like they are?

Do Evangelical, Reformed, or Pentecostal believers join Catholic churches? Why wouldn’t they? Aren’t those churches full of sinners just like they are?

Do Evangelicals join churches that sing old hymns, catechize members, and have responsive readings from Scripture, and creeds and confessions from church history? Why wouldn’t they? Aren’t those churches full of sinners just like they are?

Would many Christians join a church that used only the King James bible and claimed it was the only true interpretation? Why not?

Would many Baptists or Lutherans or Reformed folks join Pentecostal or Charismatic churches? Why not? No church is perfect and neither are they.

Would many Pentecostals or Charismatics join Baptist, Lutheran, or Reformed churches? Why not? Aren’t those churches full of sinners just like they are?

Would Baptists join a church that doesn’t immerse believers at baptism?

And on and on we go.

So, we see that the prevailing always-unhappy-church-shopper meme is shallow and disingenuous. The very people who promote it attend churches for their own specific reasons. Certainly, it is biblical that we are sinners saved by faith and grace who are to gather together: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).1 But let’s think about this for a moment. What does that gathering look like? A Reformed church? An Evangelical church? A Catholic church? A Pentecostal church? What biblical evidence do we have? Not much at all, except in the case of Corinth. Except for that church, we have no idea how these churches “did services.”

Believers should feel free to find a church that glorifies God and His Son Jesus Christ and preaches the truth of His Word alone. That may be difficult. Don’t compromise yourself because of a misleading meme.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles

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