In case you haven’t been able to tell, our family is going through a period of change right now. It’s been, for the most part, good. Fantastic conversations have happened, and a better, deeper understanding of our lives and beliefs, as well as making sure that we agree on where we’re headed.
Did you know that church hunting sucks? You’re always the new person, sometimes you have no idea where to go and there’s no one around to ask. (which, by the way, is a MAJOR turnoff!!!) You’re leaving your kids with complete strangers, and you hope that your toddler doesn’t bite anyone in the nursery (it only happened once, and why was the other kid’s finger in front of my kid’s mouth anyway), and your kindergartener doesn’t hate his class. And then you have to decide if you liked the sermon, the worship service, the people, the pastor and the general way they run things. And this after you research the church as much as you can beforehand, and hope that the church’s beliefs are as close to your own as possible. Once you’ve been to one service, you have to decide if what you didn’t like was a 1 time fluke, or if it’s something to be concerned about. Or if the things you did like were a 1 time fluke. Last, you have to decide if the new church is going to be better for your family than the old one.
This is a lot of stuff to think about, take in, and figure out. Some are an easy, instant decision, others take a little bit of time and discussion. The biggest one of all, and the most important, is whether or not the teaching is Biblical. Do they preach from the Bible, and not add anything to it? Now, I’m not talking about using commentaries, or books that others have written to help understand it better. I’m talking about taking a verse or passage, and injecting a meaning that isn’t there, or taking a passage and skipping over a section because its a tough subject to deal with. Does the church believe the Bible is the Word of God, to be used and taught in its entirety? Do they believe in teaching it’s members how to read and study the Bible for themselves? Do they believe in providing parents the best instruction possible, so the parents can then teach their children? And along with that, do they believe that the church has a role in providing teaching to the children?
A lot of people, when researching a new church, will look at the type of church (Baptist, Wesleyan, Methodist, Reformed, etc) and make their decision based strictly on that. Never taking into account that the individual church might be (a probably is) a little bit different from the denomination their associated with. Therefore, potentially losing out on what God might have for them at a particular church, even if it’s just the one service.
I have never been one to base my decisions on something so broad. Churches vary so much, depending on the pastor and congregation, that it’s not fair to them or you to judge them without all the information you get when you walk in the church doors. I could also care less about what the general denomination believes in doctrine. That has for me, absolutely no bearing on what the actual physical church, that I am walking into, believes. (And it shouldn’t matter for anyone else either). It goes back to a basic family. Just because my parents feel a certain way about something, doesn’t mean I feel the exact same way. Our views and beliefs may be very similar, but they aren’t the same. So why do we focus so much on what the “parent” organization believes?
Okay, enough with my rant….
I guess what I’m trying to get at, is that we as people focus too much on what other people say about God. When we should instead, go straight to God and the Bible to get the answers to our questions and for the basis of our beliefs. We shouldn’t get wrapped up in certain views that are presented, because then we lose sight of what God is. We should spend our time reading the Bible and in prayer with God. Again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t utilize other people’s commentaries and books, we just need to very careful and not get lost in logistics.
What about you? What is important to you in a church?