This is something I've been thinking about a lot.
First of all, you need to know that I attended a larger church in a nearby town for many, many years. Not a "mega church", but attendance was usually in the four- to five-hundred range. I didn't really know most of the people there personally, except as we interacted at church. I worked in the nursery for many years, which made me feel useful. Not to mention that I love babies and toddlers, so it was fun. The preaching was good; so was the choir. The fact that I didn't really know anyone, or have anything in common with them, didn't bother me. Sometimes it's nice to be invisible.
And then the lady who picked me up and took me to church had her husband go into a nursing home in the town where that church was, and she spent Sundays with her husband. So I lost my ride.
I don't drive. So I just sort of stopped attending church. One thing I learned as a non-driver is that nobody wants to be bothered picking up some woman every week on their way to church.
Although he is a believer, Cliff isn't a "church-y" kind of guy, and when he had to go to work every day, he liked having his weekends to work on projects at home.
When he retired, I said, "OK. Now you are home all the time. We are going to church."
Because I'm bossy like that. Actually, I'm not, usually. But I knew he would be willing to give up an hour or so to do something I wanted to do, because he likes me.
I did not want us to have to drive all over the county looking for a church, so we attended services at a few local churches. Honestly, every one we attended was satisfactory: The people were friendly and glad to have us there. Most of the attendees were local folks, so we saw familiar faces. I would probably have been happy at any of them. Cliff was fine with all of them, because none of the services lasted over sixty minutes.
But for some reason, before we even tried all of the local churches, I settled on one. I have no idea why. Maybe I was just tired of "church-shopping".
I think we've been going to that church for at least two years. Today I told Cliff that I've figured out why small, local churches stay small. And it isn't any failing in the people or the preachers.
I grew up going to small churches in small towns until I was twelve years old, and here's what I think the problem is: You know those church members personally. You know who has a bad temper and who has had marriage problems. You've heard about some of their teenagers' exploits. Old Brother Smith has been know to take one drink too many at times. You've heard one of the deacons cursing... that's a sin, right? But the scariest part is, a few of those people know some things about you, and you're not perfect either. You might be branded a hypocrite for going to church!
And this is why I have decided I like going to a small church in a small town. We are all imperfect, and we are admitting we need God in our lives. We've seen one anothers' faults, and we hope to do better. That's why we're there. And hey, how can we judge one another harshly when we know our own imperfections so well?