I am certain that we have all heard the common phrase “church of choice.” Today it is the defining cry of the millennial generation. They firmly believe that if they go to church it should be the church that best fits what they are looking for in a church. This could be a wide variety of things. I read an advertisement for a community church from a paper in New Castle, IN that was trying to increase their youth attendance. Their young people worship consisted of a wide variety of arcade games, ping pong foosball, and other coin operated games (although I do believe they were free to play). At “half time” the gymnasium buzzer would sound, a giant disco ball dropped from the ceiling and the rock concert started. When Jeremy Nettles was here he told me of a church of Christ in Champaign, IL that was handing out flyers for a bible study on the U of I campus. He and his wife decided to go because he had never heard of the church. The bible study consisted of a volley ball game and a prayer. Why are more and more churches going to this form of evangelism? Because men like Rick Warren published books that said in order to help a church to grow, give the community what they want. What if the community wanted cult prostitution should the church give that? Before you think that a church wouldn’t stoop so low, it was happening in Thyatira (Rev 2:20-23). Yes, this is an extreme, but this is an example of what the church can do if it ignores the principles and guidelines laid forth in the scriptures for the work, function, make up, etc of the local church. (This is not meant to be an all inclusive list, but a good place to begin.) So what should I be looking for?
Is it really a bible believing church? This phrase is thrown around so much I am reluctant to use it here. Most churches would so that they are a bible believing church. Even the Mormons would claim to be bible believing (so long as it doesn’t contradict the book of Mormon). But, what makes a church really a bible believing church? It is more than just saying that you believe in the bible. It is more than just sating that you believe the bible is inspired. It is believing in the bible as the sole source of authority in all things spiritual; Sola Scriptura. We don’t rely upon our traditions, the teachings of our preacher, or some magazine to get our doctrine. We look to God’s word, we don’t add to the word, nor do we take away from it (Rev. 22:18-19).
Do the members reflect Christ. That is, when visiting with the saints do they act like Christians? There area variety of attitudes that sneak up in a church that if we are not careful, we can send a dangerous message. Many refuse to go to any church because there are hypocrites in the church. Here is the scary reality… there are. We are so afraid of showing a little bit of weakness. We have convinced ourselves that perfection is needed for happiness. We want the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect spouse, the perfect family, the perfect body and the perfect persona. Anything less is deemed unacceptable. So, we put on a show, which is exactly what hypocrites do. We need to stop worrying about weather or not we are perfect but determine whether or not we are striving to live a worthy life. News flash… we won’t ever be perfect. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not ever. Rather than trying to convince each other (and visitors) we are the perfect little church, we need to be showing who we really are. Sinful people seeking to find forgiveness in Christ. With that said, if all they see are sinners then we have another problem. Some churches are filled with sinners that never seek for purity. In I Cor. 5 we found one of those examples. The church was boasting about what types of people God is willing to forgive. They had a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. This is not too far removed from our own community. This summer I have seen a large number of signs by churches advertising that they are happy to continue to worship with sin. They were welcoming the LGBT community. It was not that they planned to convert, but were using to boast about their love because these “sinners” were accepted.
Is God the focus of the worship service. Too many churches these days are too concerned with attendance. They create a worship service that is pleasing unto the members. The speaker has to be dynamic and energetic. The song services has to either tug at the heart strings or at the very least entertain you. In Lev. 10:`1-3 Aaron found out the hard way that worship is about honoring God. This is done by worshipping in a manner he has authorized, not in what we deem as useful, pleasing or good.
If the local church you identify with is not doing these things, maybe it is time to be looking somewhere else.
Grinnell church of Christ
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What Should I Be Looking For in a Church
Volume 8 Issue 29