How to pick a church.
We all know that God plants us in a church but He also deposits the clues in various places so that we are required to use our discernment, intelligence and good old fashioned hard work to make one of the most important decisions of our life Here are 6 things that will help you find a church:
1. Know what you want. Nothing is a greater pitfall for finding a church than to be out of touch with what you really want your church experience to be. Volume level, preaching style, worship length and depth are but a few urgent things to consider. You may be so thrilled with the program for children that you sacrifice yourself. Being miserable in church so your kids are happy may work for a few months but not in the long run. Better to find a less than stellar but enjoyable experience for your children in a church where you are blessed and enriched. Conversely, you do not want a fiery church that ignites you but neglects your children.
2. Do your homework. Technology has made it possible for us to save gas and time. Get referrals from Christians you trust and admire. Look at their website. Websites let you know where and when they meet. You can read their mission statement and often you can hear the Pastor on a podcast.
Here is an important tip: A slick website may seem great but consider something else. You may be called to help a young and exciting vision get off the ground. If their website looks “under construction” it might be a great opportunity for you. God is doing many new things and nothing is more rewarding that to be a part of a church plant that really wants to let God move and build something.
3. Can you pay the price? Do not kid yourself. Joining any church carries a price. Nothing is more delusional than the idea that a seeker church lowers the cost of discipleship. A seeker church could be the costliest mistake you ever make in your walk with God. Like the proverbial mechanic said, “you can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Churches that let you hide in a crowd and make few demands and focus on convenience cost you on the back end.
Becoming lukewarm in Christ damages us in many ways that we never consider. Spiritual warfare is real, is my pastor showing me how to fight or downplaying the dangers of the end times? Am I being held accountable in love to grow? Since my flesh is my mortal enemy, am I gaining the upper hand or drifting into a destructive lifestyle? Will my spiritual compromise be the undoing of my children?
On the other hand, you must beware of the Churches that abuse authority. Are they asking you to pay a price that Christ is not asking? Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:30. If the pastor equates loyalty to him with loyalty to Christ, run before the Kool-Aid gets passed around. If they say that there will be some kind of punishment for those who leave the church…well, leave the church. The punishment is staying not going.
A good church carries a good price. Prepare your heart to grow by applying the preaching and teaching to your life. Look at your schedule and arrange it around the key meeting times of the church. Be ready to serve with a cheerful heart.
4. Be aware of your faults as much as the church’s faults. Don’t walk in thinking that this is that church’s lucky day. I do not care who you are, or how big your tithe is, you are bringing baggage into a church. You have at least as much to gain from this church as you have to give!
Come in humbly and do not try to prophesy or offer your excellent talent. Jesus said, “But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 14: 10, 11.
5. Is the church seeking national revival? Revival is no longer optional but mandatory. If the DNA for revival is not in that church but it is in you then you will be frustrated. Find a pastor who believes revival is imminent, even at the door. Do not go in as a spectator to see what God is doing but go in as a soldier ready to contend alongside the pastor for God to do something.
6. Are you ready to commit? The moment might be right. You and your family feel at home. It is not perfect and you know that you will have to make some adjustments. Still, you hesitate because you are simply not ready to make a commitment. This is very dangerous. You are wasting valuable time, time you could be spending getting to your destiny.
Do not join the “I am spiritual but not religious” group who focus on the notion that God is everywhere and I do not have to be a part of a church family. More dangerous still are those who have been wounded in church (and who hasn’t?) and therefore cannot trust leadership. The answer to bad leadership is not to go without leadership but get under good leadership. The Bible says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
There is one thing I know for certain, God has a church for you. When it is the place that God has assigned for you and your family, that is the perfect church.