Monday, May 12, 2008

How to choose a church?

Lately my husband and I have been pondering the purpose of church. Since moving onto the island here we've attended two churches on island and one off island. Each church is different, of course. There are aspects of each that we like and also things we didn't like. We keep coming back to the same thoughts though. What is it that should be the determining factor? Do we go where we like the people best? The worship? The sermon? We are told not to forsake the fellowship of other believers and to gather together....but just what is that supposed to look like? We are at a place in our lives where we want to find a church to really plug into. We want to meet people to actually get to know them and them us. We want to grow spiritually and be challenged, sharpened, refined.

With that said let me describe the three places we've been (as they are pretty much our only options at this time)

1. A church on the island about 10 minutes away. The people are very nice and friendly. The sermons are good, the music is alright. Going there seems okay, just not inspiring.

2. Another church on the island less than 2 minutes away (we can walk). The people are nice, though it seems like 90% are over the age of 60. I liked the music here as it was more old hymns (which makes sense with older people) maybe weird but I liked that. The sermons were good, but again nothing that seemed to challenge me or make me think.

3. A church off island, commuting being a slight pain. It's a big church, part of a mega church to be exact. The people seemed very friendly, lots of young married new families. The sermon was fantastic, the music more like going to a concert than worship.

So then I'm back to my questions.
What is it that we go for?
If it's the teaching, well the one I like the best (#3) has a video podcast I could watch at home.
Is it the worship? I could crank up a CD with the family here.
I lean towards thinking it's to be with other believers. We could really plug ourselves in at any of these churches and try to connect with people.
So, what makes you choose the church you attend?


Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that I really like the doctrine at the off island church. Not just on the essentials, they're all the same on those, but on other issues like the spiritual gifts and giving. Is it ok to look for a church that lines up as closely to your own beliefs (on secondary issues) as possible even if it means driving a ways? How important should that be?


Renata said...

We decided to attend our church for both the teaching - good solid Bible based & also there are a lot of young families in attendance (although it does have all ages), which means that they run more programs for the kids, which encourages them to really be involved in church & hopefully this will mean they will always have a positive attitude towards church. Keep praying about the best decision!

Anonymous said...

We love our church because of doctrine, and a general "likemindedness" (I think I invented a new word) Our church has a good blend of families and older couples. Everyone-with the exception of my step-son-is homeschooled (not that anyone is violently anti ps, it's just that likemindedness thing again). We do have some minor differences. Our church holds the position that they don't agree with "contemporary" music. Several families ,like us, do listen to it but understand the need to draw a line somewhere with some issues.
If you are at odds with your church on doctrine and/or personal convictions it may be hard to have fellowship.

Leanne said...

We really want a church with the same philosophy as us....our church pretty much thinks we are weird but they lovingly tolerate us!!

I dearly want a church with other homeschool moms that have children our ages and who are willing to sow into our family and we want to make relationships like that too.....Strictly Bible based sermons, none of this wishy washy, well-thats-okay-for-you stuff.

We haven't found that yet...

That's it for us.

I got the package and I'm going to go put the socks on right now, thank you so much!!!!

Love you tons!


Monica said...

Great questions!

What is the church for? It is the Bride of Christ. A city on a Hill. It is for the nurturing and discipleship of God's people.

Number One for us is how a church handles the Word of God. Is it preached, read, considered "enough" for evangelism and rightly explained? We looked for a church for a long time and found ourselves coming up short with a lot of nice "prepackaged" teaching and not a lot of meat. It took us a while, but the minute we sat through a service at our current church we never looked back. Then it took a while time for fellowship to happen, because relationships take time. When the Word is central than God will use it strengthen and teach as well as call unbelievers to salvation. Sadly, I think too many churches today do not think that God's Word is enough- they are always adding or subtracting and embellishing to make it attractive.

Worship "styles" vary, of course. We have stayed away from worship that is man-centered and culturally driven. Did that for years and it always ended being spectator-like and empty.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I pray that God will clearly lead you where you need to be. He will. He always does.

EEEEMommy said...

It hasn't crossed my mind with regard to this topic before, but for some reason Matt. 6:33 comes to mind as I consider an answer. If you can find a church that is seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness then the other things will be added.

We've visited many churches and the teaching of the Word of God has been the most important factor to us. Sure I could listen to it on the radio, but how a church grows (and I don't mean in size, I mean in health/strength/effectiveness) is dependent on how much of a priority is placed on God's Word. But it's important that the emphasis isn't just on becoming smarter and acquiring amazing head knowledge about the Bible. It's critical that there be practical application and a desire to reach out to others with the Truth.

Your husband raises some valid points too about the secondary issues. I've been in some Bible believing churches who were strong on God's Word but de-emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit. Other churches over-emphasize certain gifts and focus more on emotional experience than knowing God's Word. There's definitely a balance.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as a perfect church. It's often tough to find the right one.