What should Christians use as the determining factor(s) in choosing a local church to join? Here are some things I’ve had people tell me over the years about how they made their decision. As you read these, consider if this is how you and your family decided to be a part of a local congregation.
Location and proximity to where they live. Convenience is king for a good number of people. However, I did read one time about a family that relocated to a city in another state to attend a particular church. We relocate for career reasons… why not move to be a part of a strong, vibrant, God honoring church?
Programs for their children and/or youth. The more the better. The bigger the better. Many will compromise other things if/when their children like a church. In too many families the children drive where the parents attend. This ought not be.
Worship style. For many this is THE determing factor in the church they choose. Some abhor traditional hymns while others can’t stand contemporary praise songs… which they call “7-11” songs (Click here).
Networking opportunities for business. This is sad, but true. It happens much more often than you’d imagine.
Coolness. I’ve run in to this one in three different cities. There are people who choose a church to attend simply because at the current time it’s “the place to be” religiously in their community.
I think you’d agree that Christians in China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, or the any country where Christians are persecuted for their faith would never have those things cross their mind. Instead there are two things they look for: 1) People of like mind in their faith, 2) Where God’s Word is proclaimed truthfully. Granted… in America we have been blessed (Cursed?) and don’t have to worry about losing our career… family… or life.
Maybe we in America need to re-evaluate our decision making process when it comes to choosing a church home. Maybe these things ought to far outstrip the items mentioned above. Consider if these things are of top priority…
A place where the highest priority is proclamation of the pure Word of God, also known as The Gospel. Note: You will need to be wise and discerning on this point because many today are peddling heresy as the Gospel.
A place where worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth is uncompromised. Note: Again, you will need to be discerning because the kind of worship I’m talking about is more than a slick presentation by gifted performers. God honoring worship exalts Him, centers on Him, focuses on Him, and lifts Him up. It can be contemplative or energetic. It can be traditional hymns or contemporary praise songs.
A place where the people are of one mind and one accord in honoring God. Note: God is not the author of confusion, disharmony, strife, or division. So again you will need to be discerning about the congregation.
A place where the Pastor/Teacher is a servant, humble, gracious, loving, and compassionate. Note: This means you will need to interact with him personally. Get to know him. If he doesn’t have time to visit with you and get to know you, he’s not being a the kind of Shepherd God requires. Go somewhere else.
A place where the leadership of the church takes membership seriously. In other words, they hold you accountable for participation in church life and honoring God. Note: This one is not popular with a lot of people today. I’m of the opinion that the church should be at least as serious as the Rotary Club, social fraternities or sororities.
A place where God Calls You. This one encompasses all the others. Deciding which congregation of God’s people to identify with locally boils down to His Call. Is GOD calling you to this church? Does GOD want you to use your gifts, talents, and abilities to build up the congregation? Is GOD’S hand upon you, drawing you to the fellowship.
Just a few things to contemplate…