On July 31 my family and I headed east from Rapid City back to the country of my kin... Indiana. Now I don't know if I have any family left in Indiana, but the story goes that my dad's grandfather was from Indiana. I'm not sure how long they stayed, but somewhere back when a Taylor I'm related to lived and perhaps died in Indiana.
We are here so that my wife can attend Purdue University. As part of that move we need to find a church to call home. Once again, we are participating in that vulgar American tradition: church shopping. We don't belong to any denomination in particular, except that we are Protestant. We've done this before, but it is a distasteful adventure, because you start finding faults. You focus on how you the "consumer" weren't properly served and satisfied. You focus on what you see and experience in a few visits. And what you experience in a few visits is inherently insubstantial.
What defines a church, the soul so to speak, cannot be ascertained by a few visits or a perusal of a website or a proper list of beliefs. Church is where people (warts and all) gather to worship and follow Jesus. In church you find the Holy Spirit working and moving in unexpected ways. Attending church is not just about assenting to right doctrine (though doctrine does matter) or finding people just like you. It is about participating together with God and his people in his Kingdom. A good church challenges and encourages in unexpected ways. Church should surprise you not serve you.
I need to keep these things in mind as we seek to find a church.