“24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Church participation is an undeniable part of the Christian’s life. We are “born-again” for this! It is human nature to take the path of least resistance, find the place of greatest comfort, and least confrontation. These factors can negatively influence our decision to go to church.
Like a marriage, church life is for better or for worse.
Picking a church may be the single most important decision second to our decision to follow Jesus. Like a marriage, church life is for better or for worse. I have known men and women who have resided in the same church for 30 plus years. They have endured change like a champion and weathered storms that would drive many away.
Smaller churches are not better and bigger churches are not bad. Those are surface assumptions about a church. Because a church has grown big doesn’t mean they have compromised. And just because a church is smaller doesn’t mean it is more disciplined. I’ve been in some great “mega-churches” and seen some dead small churches, and vice-versa.
So how do we pick a church where we can remain committed to through every change and transition? I want to share with you three elements that should be considered when choosing a church. If you’re already planted in a church, don’t use these elements as a defense to leave your church but as a guide to pray for and serve in a way to make your church the best it can be!
#1 A place where the Bible is taught, completely.
“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” John 6:62.
It’s not opinion or political activism but the solid teaching of God’s word that gives life. When God’s word is taught, strongholds are broken in our lives, peace is secured, and we gain strength, by faith, to be transformed into new people.
Feel-good stories should never be the main point of a weekly sermon or homily but a supporting component to relating spiritual truth. If you are continuously walking away from a weekly gathering and only recall the stories told and not the scripture taught, then the Word may not be paramount. The Word changes us!
#2 A place where the presence of God is.
Yes, you can experience God’s presence! Where God is the center of worship, His presence will be. God’s presence is an irreplaceable element in the church. Yet, this can be harder to discern than whether the Word is being taught or not. Worship involves our emotions and unintentionally worship can be reduced to an emotional experience neglecting the One we worship.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
With lighting and multi-media presentations we can exit a worship service “feeling” good making worship about our feelings and not giving God His due glory. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against lights and media, but it must be a supportive element that draws us into worship and not the main show.
#3 A place where I can serve.
As I mentioned in my last post regarding (WARNING, shameless plug) “Help! I’m Bored with Church,” the church is not for spectators but participators. Are there area’s where you can jump in and serve? When you see things that are “missing” in the church or things that can be done better, those are often indicators of where God is leading you to get involved.
A word of advice from a pastor, don’t tell those who are serving how bad they are doing. Roll up your sleeves and lead by serving with humility. Don’t approach serving with a “takeover” attitude but serve alongside those currently serving and wait for an invitation to give your opinion. You’ll gain more support and earn trust that way.
Size, either large or small, are not accurate gauges for selecting a church.
There are more elements involved in picking a church, but in my experience, these are three of the top ones. The teaching of God’s word and not a monologue of opinion, the presence of God not only emotional simulation and the opportunity to serve are big factors in a healthy church. Size, either large or small, are not accurate gauges for selecting a church. Get rooted in church and grow!