Finding His People
What do you look for when looking for a church? Some may disagree with me on my thought today, that's fine, everyone has their own opinions, but if you do, please consider the bigger picture.
First, let's establish that a church isn't a place or a building, as our society refers to them. A church is a group of people, and in a religious sense, people with a common belief and practice in the way they teach and obey God.
OK, when you choose or chose a place to call 'your' church home/family, did you:
Look for a convenient location?
Find a preacher you liked to listen to?
Look for a nice new attractive building?
Look for ornate windows, steeples, furnishings?
Find one with the type of music you prefer?
Find one where your kids had other kids to be with?
Choose one with a particular name on the sign?
Other things people look for:
Worship at convenient times.
Special programs Christmas/Easter.
Progressive vs conservative.
Certain programs or works, missions.
Planned trips, game night, pot-luck meals, etc.
Certain political views.
Early service, late service, no night services.
Dismissal in time to make the restaurant.
Still other things some have said:
People are nice, show concern for others.
Active in the community.
Good youth minister.
Friends/relatives attend there.
Good reputation in the community.
Broadcast services on TV.
Now, I believe none of the above should be motivating factors in choosing a church. Some might be nice icing on the cake, or be helpful due to convenience or appreciated in other ways, but if you made your decision solely on one or more of the above let me suggest the following.
We should choose the people we worship with because it is evident that they preach the Gospel of Christ, AND that they practice what they preach! With that as a cornerstone, then it is beneficial to look at the leadership (elders), program of work, reputation with outsiders, mission work and other related aspects. Nice buildings are just that, nice buildings, but they are not an indicator of whether or not the Bible is being taught inside.
You know one way to inspect potential churches is using a principle taught by Christ, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35) This would be one aspect of a church practicing what they preach. Acts 2:47 says, "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." NIV The KJV says, the Lord "added to the church daily...". God puts us into "HIS" church when we become His child, and we need to look for "HIS" people to worship with.
If we find the true family of God conveniently located in our neighborhood with an appealing preacher, a good program of work and they have pot-luck meals monthly, that's great. But if it means we choose a church family that worships in an older building across town, where we see more gray hair than we hear babies crying, a place where we hear the Bible preached in its entirety and see people worshiping as God instructs, people who obey and live what the Bible teaches in their everyday lives, then we likely have made the best choice.