So many people today are “church shopping.” I despise this term. Christians are visiting different places of worship every week in hopes of finding the perfect church. They treat this task the same as if they were buying curtains or a new vehicle. Current fads, style, and design take center stage as they take notes from the pew.
All sin is grounded in selfishness. Unfortunately, many who search for a church, though it seems like a good thing, do so in sin. Its all about me. It’s what suits me. It’s what makes me feel comfortable. It’s what meets my needs. Me, me, me, me….
Take this or leave it, but here is my suggestions in how to search for a local church body to join.
What to search for:
1) A church with correct doctrine and theology. This is of the utmost importance. If this point is not met, move on. Correct teaching from the Scriptures must be priority. Primarily the teaching of Jesus, the Scriptures, and salvation. Many churches have websites now and their doctrine of beliefs are available. If not, don’t be afraid to ask the pastor or church leader for a written statement of belief. This must be solidified first and foremost.
2) A church that practices the Great Commission. Evangelism and discipleship must be the focus. Every ministry should have purpose, either to reached the unsaved, or build up the saved. The gospel should be preached from the pulpit. (Yes, that means mentioning sin, death, and hell.) All members should be strongly encouraged to disciple others while continually being discipled by another.
3) A church that overflows with love. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Faith and hope are great. But love exceeds them all. No true worship can flow from an unloving heart. No true ministry can occur without it being grounded in love. It’s a beautiful thing to see a body of Christ that would sacrifice themselves for each other. Money shifting pockets as needs are presented. Time spent with each other in sweet fellowship. Prayers rushing to the Lord for other peoples’ struggles. Selfless, pure, and righteous. The way God originally intended it to be.
4) A church that has a place for you. A believer in Jesus Christ is commanded to serve. Unfortunately, too many look for a place to be served. As we search for a body of Christ, we should be keeping an eye out for a ministry to join. We’ve all been granted spiritual gifts, and we should desire to use them to God’s praise and glory. So when we scan over their list of ministries, we are NOT looking to be taught, served, and ministered to. We are striving to find a place that we could benefit the mission of the church.
What not to search for:
1) A church with lots of ministries. Lots of ministries simply means the church is really busy. The question is raised, are they effective? A local body with two main ministries could be more obedient and successful then a megachurch with two hundred. This goes back to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the heart of love.
2) A church with good music. Now realize that this comes from a worship leader. I can’t stand when people switch churches because they found another with “better” music. Worship is an attitude of the heart. And if somebody can only worship to a certain genre, sin is present, and worship is hindered. If our love for God outpours from our hearts, we should be able to sing a cappella and praise him. But no. We have to have a full praise band, the latest Powerpoint presentations, and room up front to bounce up and down.
Or on the flipside, we must only have hymnals in hand and have an organ accompany the song.
This is SIN!! No matter what is played in church, you CAN worship to it. It’s not about the music. It’s about the Lord. You can listen to your favorite styles and genres all the rest of the week. But whatever is played during the service is not important. What is important is the truth of the lyrics and the focus of the worshippers.
3) A church building that looks good. The first church in Acts met in homes. Some worshipped in prison cells. Enough said.
4) A church with a well-known pastor. We like sheep have gone astray, each of us to the most popular church in the city. There are some great pastors and teachers out there. Some have written books. Others have TV shows. But it doesn’t mean you need to be there. God may want you in a small country church because he could use you best there. Don’t follow names. Follow God. Even Paul was glad he didn’t baptize people because he didn’t want to hear people bragging that they were “of Paul.” It’s all about Jesus.
I’m sure there are reasons I’ve overlooked but I don’t want this to drag on. My point is this. Church is not about serving ourselves. It’s about serving Jesus and his people. Find a church that you can do just that in spirit and in truth. Happy shopping!