Seeking the perfect church

EPrata photo
The quote is a little longer than the video. Read the quote then watch the clip. It's only a few seconds.

Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all!

And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us…

All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world!

As I have already said, the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.

The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.”

Charles Spurgeon, “The Best Donation,” (No. 2234) an exposition of 2 Corinthians 8:5 delivered on April 5, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England.

Further reading

Essay: Pew-Hoppers: How to Shepherd Church Shoppers - Part 1
Essay: Pew-Hoppers: How to Shepherd Church Shoppers – Part 2

Sermon: Personal commitment to the church - Part 1


  1. This is great and I appreciate the links at the bottom--will read later.
    Here is where our family is right now and I wonder if others can relate and offer advice. After many years in a Vineyard church I heard the clear message of the gospel (elsewhere--ok, on this blog and on Wretched radio) and realized that I was a bad person. I had actually thought that if my sin and good deeds were weighed on a scale and displayed for God upon my death that the good would outweigh the bad and I would be ok and enter heaven. We went to church, tithed, sponsored poor children in Africa, didn't use foul language for the most part, participated in Bible studies and read a lot of books from the Christian bookstore (Beth Moore, John Eldredge) taught our kids how to act right, etc., etc. So then, once I learned the truth about everything (gospel) I was determined to find a church that protects the truth and wasn't afraid to talk about wrath and hell. I actually wanted to hear this a lot because it helped to confirm my badness and who I was in reality. It was really weird! Anyway, we found a smallish church (relative to the Vineyard church's population of around 6,000) of about 200 people and told the kids we were going to go a few times and didn't care if they were bored. They had become used to a lot of entertainment. Amazingly, the kids started getting up to go to church on Sunday mornings without complaint and made some friends at this little church where the pastor exposits from the Word, verse by verse and there are even elders! It's a great place but here is why I am writing...I have been timid about us becoming members because sometimes the music has chosen might have a Vineyard or Hillsong song or words that are repetitious or just not very meaningful. Sometimes the ladies in the Bible study are downstairs reading an Ann Voskamp book and I want to be like, Noooooooooo, don't mess up this good thing you've got going here, people! It is like I have become hyper-vigilant, hyper-discerning and on-guard, fearing that this church will become a mini Vineyard and that we will already have committed. A few weeks ago the guest worship leader had bare feet and I did not like that. Some of the things he said were a little too mystical for my taste. So here's the thing--for the most part this church is very sound but I get fearful of the areas where things are a little slippery. If it were just me I would probably seek out a church that is more buttoned-up and confessional, more along the lines of hymns and creeds. This church is so much further along than the Vineyard church, though, that I wonder if we need to just prayerfully jump in and hope to be part of strengthening these areas--maybe even the fact that we have had experience in a mega-church will be helpful in protecting the body.
    This was long-winded for a comment but joining this church has really been weighing on me because I do believe in the importance of joining a local church.

  2. Excellent piece. I've been looking for a church not a perfect one but one who stands on the word of God. It's almost impossible to find! I think I finally found a church where you don't hear, well what this means to me is...

  3. We are not called to find or go to church. If you are called to Christ you are the church.
    Matthew 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

    16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

    18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

  4. Jeff, yes we are the church. We are also called to gather to worship and prayer and to observe the Lord's Supper and baptisms, to edify the body with the Spirit-given gifts, to learn the word, and a host of other reasons, at a local church. Local assemblies populated the first century Christianity and they do today, for a reason. The two, being the church, and going to church, are not mutually exclusive.

    1. I agree that there is no such thing as the perfect Church and a failure to join can be caused by an over zealous attempt to make sure we do not find ourselves defending doctrines and beliefs which are far from Biblical.

      And I can see where that kind of attitude can be so restricting that we can find ourselves unprotected from the very kind of attacks we fear the most.

      Considering that each of us has our own understanding of what is Biblical and what is not, I have to assume that you are speaking to those who have a solid understanding of the difference between sound Biblical Doctrine and doctrine which is not sound. Spurgeon said Discernment is knowing the difference between the truth and ALMOST the truth.

      If that's true, then that would include and assume you are referring to those who can distinguish between majoring on the minors as opposed to taking issue with doctrines that are truly heretical and dangerous. Therefore, even though I agree with your hope resulting in your conclusion, I must also agree with the importance of discernment being taken in the process.

      Today, we see too many variations on "the theme" and too many people not regenerated and therefore incapable of knowing the difference. Knowing the difference has become much more problematic than it ever has been before simply because there are so many fewer Churches that know and can teach the difference.

      I would love to hear how you think that concern can be acknowledged and protected against while not creating undue paranoia and fear at who we become yoked with as believers.

  5. Thanks for yet another wonderful post! Grace to you!


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