7 Ways to Know You’re in the Right Church

 People often share with me their struggle to find the right church for them. Typically, these people are either unchurched or “formerly” churched, meaning they bailed on the idea years ago. Their reasons are varied, but include:

A) It was intellectually/spiritually uninteresting. “The pastor simply couldn’t hold my attention.”

B) It was shallow. “I got sick of ‘How To’ sermons and messages to make me feel good.”

C) It was too impersonal. “I got lost in the crowd and felt like cattle shuffling into the pen each week.”

D) It was too “entertaining”. “If I wanted a concert venue, I’d go see a real band perform. Plus, the pastor tries too hard to be funny and ‘hip’.”

E) It was small, but nobody there my age. “I had trouble connecting, and the people weren’t that friendly.” 

E) “I hate mornings. Period.”

mega-church-bus-from-sacred-sandwich

There are other reasons, of course. But those are some of the biggies I hear. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I left because those people were just too loving. They cared about me personally. The messages were just so biblical and relevant to my life, I had to leave!” 🙂

So what’s a person to do? Should you give up on church altogether? Just sit at home and worship God for 5 minutes and then go walk the dog? Keep in mind, there are no perfect churches, because after all, it’s just people coming together, right? It’s also not about how BIG or SMALL a church is. You can find community in a big church and you can stand in the corner alone and be ignored in a small church. That said, I understand the dilemma. But I still think its worth the long search. My wife and I attended a church while in grad school that gave us a chance to serve, but the pastor (though a great guy) was a sleeping pill in the pulpit. We weighed the options, and since it was temporary, stayed there. Another church we attended for a year had awesome preaching but was a bit too liturgical for my spiritual taste buds. They did the same ritual every week. But it was good for us at the time.

confused-girl“So what’s a girl like me to do?”

Obviously you don’t want to become a serial “church hopper”, either due to your inability to commit or your eternal search for that perfect place of worship. So here are a few things to think about. Seven ways you can know you’ve found the right church for you.

1. You gladly lay aside other (good) priorities and fun pursuits to faithfully be there each week.

2. You call them ‘family’ because that’s exactly what it feels like to you. You find yourself not “going to church” anymore but rather coming together with other believers out of a real need to do so.

3. You are excited and motivated to tell your friends (who need a church) about yours.

4. You look for ways to uniquely serve others in that body with your gifts and personality (doesn’t have to be in an official “ministry”, either).

5. You don’t think twice about regularly sacrificing a portion of the finances God has blessed you with, so that the work there can survive and thrive.

6. The “church service” truly enlightens, deepens and challenges you in your relationship with Christ.

7. You are confident that Jesus and His Word are honored above all else (programs, ministries, presentation, music, pastor, etc)

If you identify with these 7 things, then there’s a really good chance you’ve found your church home. If not, then keep looking. You’re in the wrong church. There’s a group of people out there who need you! There is a church for YOU! If you find yourself in a search right now, go beyond just “visiting” a church this Sunday. Stick around for a while to get the full effect. Give it time. Come back a few weeks.

Keep seeking God and go find your spiritual family this week!

Some Who Wander Really Are Lost

July 13, 2001, will be a day 13-year-old Cody Clawson will never forget. The Utah Boy Scout and his buddies from Troop 241 headed out for a few days of hiking in Targhee National Forest, near the Yellowstone National Park boundary and about 40 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. But while the scouts were setting up camp, young Cody lost his sense of direction while carrying supplies from a vehicle to the campsite. In a matter of minutes he was completely lost in the thick forest. Around 2 p.m. on that day, Cody was discovered missing by his troop leaders and fellow scouts. Four hours later they finally contacted search-and-rescue personnel from Idaho and Teton County in Wyoming. Night fell, and the search was postponed until morning. A bitter cold blanketed the dark, secluded Yellowstone forest that night. Making matters worse, it rained that evening, washing away any tracks of evidence where Cody had been. Wearing only a T-shirt, shorts and sandals, the young Boy Scout took cover under a rock outcropping and waited for morning.

Compass-Taylor-1930s

As dawn came that Tuesday, a Wyoming Air Patrol plane along with several private aircraft had been employed in the operation. Though family and friends feared the worst while hoping for the best, anxiously waiting for any news regarding the boy’s whereabouts. At about 8:30am, after over two hours of flying, a diligent and skilled helicopter pilot finally spotted Cody. Swooping down, he carefully maneuvered the aircraft, landing nearby. Tired, cold, hungry and soggy, 13-year-old Cody Clawson climbed to safety inside, surprised to learn he had wandered 10 miles away from the Scout Camp. He had been separated from his Troop for over 14 long hours. But that wasn’t Cody’s biggest surprise that summer morning. Imagine his astonishment upon discovering the man flying that helicopter was Harrison Ford!

A part-time Jackson resident and proficient pilot, Ford regularly volunteers his helicopter flying skills for rescue missions. He had spent two hours that morning scanning the landscape for any sign of the lost boy. Happy to finally be rescued, Cody’s gratitude turned to amazement upon recognizing the Hollywood superstar at the controls.

Okay, if you’re gonna get lost in the wilderness, who better to rescue you from danger than Indiana Jones?! Flying back, Ford glanced over at Cody through his aviator sunglasses. “Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one,” no doubt flashing his trademark half-smile.

“I already earned that badge last summer,” Clawson replied.

“Did you get an autograph?” his fellow Scouts later asked.

“No,” replied the grateful 13-year-old. “I got something better than an autograph out of the deal. I got a hug and a handshake.”

Maybe he should get a compass on his next birthday.

Actor Harrison Ford

 You’ve probably never been lost in the Wyoming wilderness, OR been rescued by Indiana Jones. But we all possess a proclivity to lose a spiritual sense of direction. An inherent inclination

Doing this regularly helps you know where you are (and more importantly) where you’re going.to“wander off the path”, if you will, straying off course – personally and spiritually. In a culture given to radical extremes, we trivialize the essential things in life (family, faith, spirituality) while making icons out of the relatively insignificant ones (career, image, obsession with self). In the process, we lose not only our direction, but also our perspective as well. We develop spiritual “vertigo”, forgetting which end is up. Our vision gets fuzzy, and we eventually overemphasize all the wrong issues. We even take good thingsand elevate them to a place of unhealthy importance. Because of this, every now and it’s a good idea to pause and do a “self-diagnostic”, checking ourselves to see if our life vision is still 20/20 and directed at our True North.

You know?