In yesterday’s interview, the importance of a belonging to a church family came up, so we thought we’d follow up with this post by Bob Lepine for those of you who might be in transition right now . . .
If you had to move to a new city and had to start looking for a new church, what would the ‘non-negotiables’ be?
I think too many of us have a consumer mindset when it comes to churches. This week, I was trying to fix the ceiling fan in our bedroom. I fixed it all right. The fan still works, which is good, but I think the light socket will never provide illumination for the room again.
Oh well, I thought. The fan is probably 30 years old. And besides, there are probably fifty different fans to choose from at the Home Depot, with prices starting at something like $39. I can just go pick up a new one.
But which new one? How will I ever decide?
First, I’ll wait until Mary Ann and I can go look at fans together. I’ve learned in more than 30 years of marriage that this is not the kind of item a husband selects by himself.
But before I head to Home Depot, I’ll Google “what to look for in a ceiling fan.” I’ll do some research. I may even check out the most recent review of ceiling fans in a back issue of Consumer Reports at the library.
After all, I want to make sure I pick just the right ceiling fan.
That same mindset often carries over into trying to decide which church to attend or to join. And while there are important evaluative questions that we should ask as we think about where we go to church, I’m afraid our consumer mindset may have us too often valuing the wrong thing.
We ask questions like “do I like the style of music?”
Or “what kind of programs do they have for the children?”
Or “what time does the service start?” (Believe it or not, I’ve actually had someone tell me that the reason they don’t come to our church is because we start our service at 10:00, not 10:30 or 11:00).
It’s fine to take all kinds of issues into consideration as you decide on a church home for you and your family.
But there are more important issues to keep in mind as you determine where you should worship. Here are a few of the issues I’d put on my list:
1. Are the scriptures clearly taught? And not just biblical principles or concepts. Do I understand what the Bible teaches better because of what happens at church?
2. Is God worshipped with heart and mind? Am I engaged mentally and emotionally as God’s worth is being declared in song, in preaching, and in communion, or do I find myself distracted and disconnected?
3. Are there ways for me to serve others? Is there anything that would keep me from using my gifts and skills to minister to others in the church and to advance the cause of Christ outside of the church?
4. And perhaps most importantly, “Does everything point to Jesus and the good news of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope we have in Him?”
Whatever ceiling fan we eventually purchase will one day break, just as the last one has. It will end up in a landfill.
But the decision we make about where we will worship and serve and live in community with others, growing in grace and advancing the work of the Kingdom–those are eternal matters. Let’s make sure we’re making those decisions guided not by a consumer mindset but by Kingdom priorities.