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Friday, July 17, 2009

Church Shopping

So I've blogged about all these heretical churches with their water-down religion and false doctrine. Of course then someone writes me on this blog and wants to know how to choose a church. I wish I had some awesome, divinely-inspired answer to such a question.

The truth is that for many of us, variety is the spice of life. We thank God everything is not the same. We enjoy the different seasons, colors, styles of clothing and music. We enjoy variety because each of us is different. We are variety.

For those of us who don't savor variety, we have to remember that just because everything is the same does not make it good. And because things are different is not a sign of lack of quality or unity. Sameness can be lame. And variety can be fine.

So it is with the great variety of churches. Denominations have emerged for legitimate reasons. Some churches have split ... and their congregants said is was "the devil's handiwork." Yet after such splits, there are two functional churches and the gospel ministry is bigger than it was before.

Some churches have emerged because of ethnic roots, such as the Dutch Reformed Church or the Scottish Presbyterian Church - or even the black churches in America. Others have emerged out of the need for reformation and change. The reformed movements have brought needed healing not only to those who created a new group, but also to those who remained faithful to the original denomination.

God created a variety of expressions of our common faith. All of us can find a house of worship that fits our personality as well as our individual needs. Of course that doesn't mean we should look for one church that accommodates all of us. That would be the one most likely to have a false doctrine!

If you are shopping for a good church home, here are a some questions to ask that may help you find a church that fits your needs:

1. Is the doctrine and belief of the church true to the Bible’s teaching? Does the church present a balanced perspective on the person and work of the Holy Spirit?

2. Does the church minister to my family with various programs?

3. Does the style of worship provide an expression that makes me feel comfortable, yet at the same time makes me stretch to learn more of the Christian faith? (You need not only to feel comfortable, but also feel challenged.)

4. Is there an expression of the presence of God in the services of the church? Does that church bring an adequate balance between what I feel in worship, and at the same time establish a rational credibility for the experience I have just found in God?

5. Is the church alive and growing? Are there visible signs that people walk the talk, and become attractive representatives of Christ in the community?

6. Is there leadership in the church that I'm willing to submit to and follow?

There is a church near you that provides a balance between the emotional and spiritual expression of revival movements and the rational understanding of the Scriptures. There is a church that provides musical expressions you prefer — linking the church to the contemporary community, as well as teaching you to enjoy the Christian life. There is a church that provides teaching that is based on the Word of God, while giving biblical guidelines for contemporary day-to-day living.

One thing is clear: we belong in church. God calls us to worship together, serve together, pray together and be together. You may think you can be a Christian without being a committed member of a Biblical church. But if you think that, you are wrong. So get busy, firm up your beliefs and get committed to a local church!

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