Looking For A Church
I’ll never forget as a teenager receiving a “Teen Study Bible” as a gift from my mom and flipping to a page that had a study about “Church” on it. It said something like, “finding a church is like looking for a new pair of shoes…you have many types…Adidas, Nike, Reebok, etc…. you just have to find the one that fits you best.” This describes the attitude of many when looking for a congregation to place membership in. Do they like the “worship” or “music”? Does the church have a band? What are the credentials of the lead pastor? Does the church have people that are like me in it? Sadly, this is not the way the Scriptures teach us to look for a church. The church was never intended to be Burger King’s slogan, “have it your way!” The church is a place that requires you to “have it God’s way!” What is God’s way of selecting a congregation? Consider the following passages for our Bible study:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
The above passage shows that a church is a community that is devoted not only to God but to one another. Most people want to be devoted to God, but it is clear from the passage above we must also be devoted to the church. Their devotion was shown in their time commitment to one-another. Every day they met together and enjoyed the presence of one another as they praised God. Church took place in their homes and was more than just the Sunday meeting. Many in today’s society treat church like a job; they come in and punch in a time-clock Sunday morning, and once they leave they are back to their regular lives. For the early Christians, church continued all week. They were truly a family. The Lord was the one who added to their number daily those who were being saved. When looking for a church to join, you don’t look for which one fits you the best, rather you look for one that fits the Scriptures the best. In the Bible we find the church was a community and family; thus we must look to join a church that is the same, being ready to devote our time and energy to it.
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13
Sin separates us from God and from one another. By nature, sin is deceitful, which means we sometimes don’t even realize when we are living in such a way that displeases our God. The danger is the heart can quickly harden and become unbelieving, turning away from God. Daily encouragement from brothers and sisters in the church is the solution to prevent our hearts from getting far from God. We must look for a church where the members have daily relationships with one another. The word “encourage” is sometimes translated “exhort”. Too many people look for a church where they feel good at and are never pushed or challenged to be godly. The sermons at church should sometimes make us feel uncomfortable if the preacher is preaching from the Bible. Members should not be afraid to be involved at an intimate level in one-another’s lives.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
God is faithful to his promises. He promises to walk with us in this journey called life, but you must be careful not to swerve off the road (Matthew 7:13-14). The scripture above encourages us to hold onto our faith unswervingly. God also reveals in this scripture that looking for a church is not about finding a place we are most entertained or necessarily enjoy the most. Rather, we must consider how we can spur one-another on toward love and good deeds. This means we need to consciously come to church with a “giving” mentality instead of a “taking” mentality. It isn’t what “my church can do for me” but “what can I do for my church”. Sadly, many congregations are content to allow members to pick and choose when to attend, and yet the Bible commands us not to get in the habit of missing the meetings of the body. It is vital that when looking for a church that you find one that expects the members to be committed to the meetings of the body. What will you contribute to the congregation today? Do you come to service with a “giving” mentality? Worship is what you make it. It is about how much you give your heart to God and his people. Devotion implies that you are giving of yourself to God, and not dependent on how “great” the service is that day.
I love going out to restaurants and eating dinner out with my wife. As the customer, you get to pick the food you like to eat, and the waiter is there to serve you, making the experience as memorable as possible. The waiter or waitress is simply getting paid by the hour or from tips. For them, it is just a job and their service is based on the fact that they are getting paid to do so. The owner, on the other hand, is personally invested in the business as everything falls on him or her. Many times while eating out, the owner will come around personally to ask the guests how they are doing. They are personally invested in the restaurant’s well-being. I believe in the church we can have the “customer’s mentality” of serve me and make my experience great. This person has no commitment and the moment they have a bad experience they are gone from the congregation because their devotion wasn’t to God or the church, but to themselves. Secondly, we can have the “waiter/waitress mentality”, where we do our religious duties just to get paid (go to Heaven), but our heart isn’t into it. The attitude we need to have is the “owner’s mentality”. The owner is personally invested and own’s everything in the restaurant. Even if one of his employee’s makes a mistake, it reflects his management and a great owner takes personal responsibility. Jesus took this role with His Church.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
Jesus who is our perfect example and whom we strive to imitate had the mentality, “I’m going to build MY church.” We need to have the conviction that we must build Jesus’ church in Boston. In looking for a congregation, you must look for the one that Jesus started. This is the congregation that Hell itself can’t stop because like the Founder, all the members have personally staked their ownership as sons and daughters of God in the church. If you are seeking a traditional church you can attend on Sundays and not think much about throughout the week, you are at the wrong church. On the other hand, if you are seeking a Bible-based church, that means you are seeking a community in which to devote your time, talents, and efforts to, while glorifying our awesome God. Please consider studying the Bible with us today and joining one of our small group Bible Talks. Welcome to Bring Your Neighbor Day!