You make the church

I am what you could call a connoisseur of church-hopping. I once embodied the persona of a jaded lover who sought to see only the negative. I had often wished that I had a thin mustache to twiddle and a fedora so that the sting of my criticisms could really be felt. All I wanted to know was what “the church” could do for me.

This is not the way to begin the search for a church. I came to that realization quickly and harshly. I wore myself out, trying to tear every church down, instead of looking at what it did well. I suppose, however, my perspective was different then. I grew up in Siloam Springs, and, year after year, I saw the reign of hypocrisy. Kids who were proud that they went to New Life (or really any church, I’m not bashing New Life specifically) and yet, Monday morning you would see them spouting harsh words and hurting people.

Church is just something you do. Church is a cute block you can mark out on your calendar. It’s a culture. This was what I saw growing up, and, because of that, I vowed never to go to church. It was the human in me that allowed the negative experiences of my past to affect the rest and to color the view of “the church” for me.

However, when I came to JBU—which was not my plan at all—I saw that I was wrong. Church is community. Church is the body of Christ. Church is love. Church is wonderfully imperfect. It felt ironic to me, a girl from Siloam Springs, who, like the multitude of other freshmen, was seeking a place to belong to—in my own hometown.

Truth be told, except for one, I had never attended a church in Siloam in my entire life, and I thought that because of that experience, I knew what other churches were like. In my first semester, I found several that I liked but didn’t feel good enough. I became wrapped up in minute details that didn’t matter. I would often ask myself, “Well, does God want me to go to a church I hate to challenge myself? Is it selfish for me to go to a church where I feel comfortable?”

I eventually realized that I was trying to make the choice of a church a political issue, but it isn’t. I felt that I just needed to decide and I did. It seemed that God didn’t care what church I chose as long as I committed myself to it. So, I just chose the church with the nicest people, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t “perfect.” Every church lacks in some way and that’s okay. You make up for it with your own study of the word and through the community of Christ.

You can choose what to “get out” of church. You choose your attitude. The church will never be perfect enough for me or for you because we’re humans. Ultimately, it’s not about the music, worship style or food, but about the people.

Escarcega is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at escarcegak@jbu.edu.