Which church should we attend? This question is a point of frustration for many people. If you struggle with fatherlessness, this can be a sensitive issue. Many people seek family they never had through the Church and they should. The Church is a family; in fact, the Church is THE family of God. Therefore, the question "what defines 'the church,'" is acute.
Let's say that you have daddy wounds because your parents divorced when you were young. After wandering around in the world, trying to find your place, now you have come to Jesus and experienced new life, healing, and hope. You expect that going to Church will mean more of the same healing, hope, love, and acceptance. Instead, you find disfunction, neglect, insincerity, or commercialism. You then bounce around from denomination to denomination and group to group, looking for something similar to what you experienced in Jesus when you first believed. But you can't seem to find it. Where is the family of God? Which Church is the TRUE Church?!
Nobody should define their family based upon their denomination. The Church is the communion of the Saints, not the communion of the Baptists or any other sect. The Church is every single person who has a genuine love for Jesus abiding within them. As the Apostle Paul said, "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ." Romans 8:9. The abiding Spirit of Jesus, as seen through the character of one's life, is the sole distinction for members of Christ's family.
The family we all long for exists, and there are many, many members in it. But the family of God is people, not an organization. To find fellowship, connect with people you trust whose lives reflect the fruit of the Spirit. We all have flaws, but not everyone has the love of Christ. As the old song hymn says, "They will know we are Christians by our love." And Jesus said, "By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." John 13:35. The people who beat this fruit are the family you seek.
And above all, we must have grace for one another. No family stays together without the existence of abundant grace. Grace does not mean tolerance for blatant sin. Grace means that we understand that we are all on a journey toward holiness, and we all require patience and understanding along the way. The person who loves Christ will always be moving forward into holiness. And the person who loves Christ will also be patient with the weak as Christ is patient with us. In fellowship with such people, we will always find out way home.