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The very term “church shopping” leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When I say it I feel transported into the land of the consumer where the prices are low and the options are limitless. Can I really customize my church experience? Can I really customize spiritual community?
At the same time that is the reality of our American religious landscape. Due to the fact that there is no state church and free market capitalism holds sway we are bombarded with choices when it comes to what faith community we will “belong” to? For some reason it feels as though belonging is cheapened when we have so many choices and such a penchant for customization. It explains why searching for a church has come to be called “church shopping”.
And then there is the actual experience itself. I now have a new sensitivity to visitors of churches now that I have been a visitor. It can be overwhelming. For the first three weeks you get more attention than a 2 month old. I know people mean well but sometimes it seems contrived. Ultimately I know this kind of attention won’t last long. I always wondered what people thought when they came to one of our gatherings….
So far we have gone to a few churches in the area and there is one that really stands out to me: Vineyard Southwest. We only visited Vineyard Southwest once but it is growing on me. That’s because 1) the pastor said “sin cooties” in his sermon (as in stop acting like hanging out with people who are not Christians will give u the sin cooties) and 2) they came by last Saturday and gave us chocolate chunk cookies. Not just chips but chunks! What more could a consumer ask for?