"Walk By Faith, Not By Sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7
Four years ago, I moved to Tallahassee to go to school, and get a degree in something. Though obtaining my degree was the most important reason to move away from home, I had other important changes to make as a result of the move. One such important decision was staying plugged in spiritually with other believers, so that I could have encouragement and fellowship away from my family.
My family and I have gone through the process more than once to find a new home church, and it is a process for sure. However, the decision ultimately came down to my mom because she was the head of the household, had the ability to drive, and also had to make choices to benefit her family as a whole. She knew what was better for us kids in terms of church doctrine then we did when we were younger. But, then I grew up.
When I came to FSU, I became involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, which will be an experience I will never forget. I made some friendships that will last a life time from my small group, and have so many good memories that haven’t even begun to fade. I learned a lot from being with the BCM; the pluses and minuses of people, and a continued growing of my faith. However, I realized that I won’t be in college forever, or that I won’t be able to go to BCM events all the time because, as I got more into my major, I became more busy with homework, projects, and work. I needed to find a church home. I had already made the decision that I was not going to move back to the town my parents live in after graduation. It was time to settle my own home here.
So, I began the dreaded church search. What Jeff mentioned in his article about hipster churches and coffee shops really reminded me of the church scene around town, and my search for a home. I will not name any specific names for the churches I did not settle on because those might be the perfect fit for someone else, but what I did realize is that many churches are so focused on grabbing college kids’ attention that they often stray away from biblical doctrine and compensate. Though a church may be Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, or Catholic, that does not give them a special, specific right to be the more hipster, and ‘modern’ church, that is okaying gay rights or promoting abortion. I again am not pointing any specific fingers.
When I was looking, I attended a multitude of churches, some for months at a time, others only once or twice. One church did not provide a doctrine, biblically-based sermon the entire month of December. Instead, they gave Act 1, 2, 3, and 4 of their Christmas play, with no scripture shared until Christmas Eve. They were leading up to their big show. Guys, we don’t need to put on a show for people to come to church. That’s God’s job. We are merely supposed to be welcomers and lovers. We are supposed to love one another and our neighbors and invite them to church, and share the gospel with them. We don’t need to put on a five-act play for them. God’s in control. We are there to merely plant a seed, and God will sow it.
I eventually found a home church that I am very happy with, and I’ll tell you why. This church is biblically sound. It is based on the truth that God sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to be born of the Virgin Mary, so that he could redeem the world of it’s sin. How did he do that? Jesus Christ was crucified on behalf of past, present, and future sins of all humanity. He paid the ultimate price, so that we could be reunited with God one day in heaven. That is what love is. Jesus loved us so much that he sacrificed himself for us. He took the place where we should have died. We don’t have to pay a sum of money or be ‘good’ people to get to heaven. We only have to accept and believe this truth, giving us the joy of sharing a relationship with God. That’s what my church believes, and what is in the Bible. There are many things about the church I like obviously, aside from the gospel: the involvement in the community, the small groups, the welcome one feels each time they step into the building. But, to me, a belief in the gospel is most important.
So, if you are looking for a new church home, and have never done it before, at least not by yourself, here are some things to consider:
1. What does the church really believe in? Are their beliefs founded in God’s Word? You can often find their beliefs on their website, if you don’t have a chance to speak to the pastor in person.
2. What are the motives of the church? Is the church focused on building God’s kingdom, or are they only monetarily driven? This can be hard to determine because each church does an offering, allowing people to tithe. I would look up in the Bible about tithing and see from there if they are tithing by God’s Word, or are doing it for personal gain.
3. Attend more than once if you are uncertain. Sometimes it is hard to make a decision based off of one visit. If you enjoyed parts of it, but felt uncomfortable, try going back. It could be that trying out new things is just a little out of your comfort zone. I know it was for me.
4. Don’t feel out of place grooving in the worship. Are you having a moment of ultimate praise and worship, but are afraid to show it in an unfamiliar place? Don’t be! You are around other believers, who are just as stoked as you are about how AWESOME God is!
5. Pray about it. I cannot emphasize this enough! God has a place for everyone and each one of us has different needs. Churches work in different ways to glorify God. Ask God to give you guidance on a decision.
What would you tell someone who is looking for advice about church hunting?