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.”
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.
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!