Have you ever been in the position of looking for a church?
People have various reasons for looking for a church. Maybe they have always been church goes and have moved to a new area; possibly they are dissatisfied with the church they currently attend; maybe they have never been a regular church attendee, but feel they should start.
Churches are usually excited when visitors walk in the door. The smaller the church, the more noticeable the visitors are; smiles and handshakes greet every newcomer that walks in the door. In churches of hundreds or even thousands walking the halls, visitors can often go undetected. Some people like the small church atmosphere where everyone knows everybody. Some like the larger churches – they can settle into an activity suitable for them and develop a circle of friends.
As I re-read what I have written so far, it saddens me. If you go back and substitute the name of any organization where the word “church” is the paragraphs are still true; VFW, Girl Scout Troup, Little League, Sewing Club – and a million others groups – would all fit.
Is a church just another social club? If it is not just another social club should it be treated like one?
As a pastor, I always will engage in conversation with visitors to the church. The reason for their visit almost always comes up. If they are looking for a church; I tell them they are welcome and I will pray for them. I say they need to go where God wants them to go if it is here – glory to God. If it is someplace else – glory to God. The most important thing is for them to follow God’s will. I will encourage them to attend several churches and talk to God about each one.
I know I have failed salesmanship 101. The way things are done is to show the people how the church meets their particular needs and how the church they are standing in today is the best church for them. Here is the problem with that. We are not standing in a car dealership showroom, and I am not looking at a potential customer. We are standing in God’s house. The visitors are not potential customers but are the crown jewel of God’s creation. He died for them and desires to bless them, and He has a plan for their lives. God will use His church as part of that blessing and plan. The decision of which church is God’s will for them is a decision best settled between them and God through prayer (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 10:25; Ephesians 1:22, 3:21; 5:27-32; Colossians 1:24; Acts 20:28).
As pastors, God gave us to the church “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). When our goal as ministers of the gospel is only to increase attendance, we are not even close to what God desires of us or fulfilling the needs of the congregation.
Here is an example:
A family with a couple of teenagers visiting a perspective church may look at how active the youth group is – how often they meet, how many teens are involved – and so on. Let’s assume there are only two other teens in the church and a youth group is nonexistent. Is this church no longer an option or do you start talking to God about helping a handful of struggling youth? Choosing to work with the youth will take much time and effort, but most of all, hours of prayer, but could it be that God sent you there to serve Him in an area the church is lacking? Could be, but that is between you and God. However, let me ask you this, did it ever come to mind?
If you are a Christian in the position of looking for a church, try going into it with the mindset of finding a place to serve God, not necessarily a place to be served.
There are other things to consider as well. Church is a house of worship and prayer; a place of teaching and learning, a place to serve God and His people. If these are the things a church should be, should we not be looking for these things when looking for a church?
What is foremost on your mind when looking for a church – How can God use me here? Or how can God help me here? Which should be the question we ask?
Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.preacherjohnson.com. E-book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTV2A If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.