[social_share sc_id=”sc1″]Choosing which church to attend is an important decision for a Christian. Choosing a church in Berea is complicated by the fact that there are so many to choose from.
As a pastor I want to offer some practical guidance for those who are actively looking for a church to attend. Unfortunately it has been my experience as a pastor that many people choose a church for all the wrong reasons, and many people reject a church for all the wrong reasons. My hope is to bring some clarity to your decision making process.
Let’s start with the wrong reasons for choosing a church.
Reason #1: Don’t choose a church because it gives you an emotional high.
Now I want to be careful at this point, because we are emotional beings. But emotions can have a way of influencing us into making a poor decision. I’m sure if you stopped and gave it a little bit of thought you could come up with at least one example of making an emotional decision that later turned out to be a poor one. It may be something as minor as what you choose to have for dinner, or it may be something major as who you decided to marry.
What are some ways that a church can give you an emotional high?
- Music – I doubt that few would deny that music has tremendous power to move us emotionally. Many, many, many people mistake the emotional power of music as experiencing the presence of God in worship. Certainly there are times that you may experience God during worship. But I’m afraid that many people mistake the stirring of their emotions by the music for the stirring of our emotions in true worship of God. Admittedly judging this can be tricky but here is guideline to help you be discerning. Examine the lyrics to the songs you’re singing. Are the theologically correct? Are they man-centered or are they God-centered. If the music is man centered and your emotions are stirred that should be a warning signal. If the music of a church is man centered probably the rest of the church is going to be man centered as well.
- Preaching – Another land mine here that we need to be careful of. There are some preachers who know how to play with your emotions. Yes, emotions do play a role in preaching and woe to the preacher who forgets that. But preaching primarily should speak first to the mind and then to the heart. Many preachers choose to not do the hard work of speaking to the mind and aim directly for the heart. Therefore you hear lots of stories some sad, some happy. But they all have the same effect, they can stir you emotionally without ever confronting you and challenging you to grow spiritually.
Reason #2: Don’t choose a church because of it’s programs
This is geared primarily to families with children and teenagers. If I had a dollar for each time that I’ve heard or been told that we decided to leave church x because church y has a better program for our kids. Now this is not always a bad reason and there may be some truth to what they are saying. But there are a couple of things to be considered.
First of all don’t delegate the spiritual condition of your children to a program or youth worker. As a parent I’m responsible for the spiritual care and training of my children. Just now are we beginning to realize the danger of trusting our children to the latest church program. The number of young adults who leave the church never to return is reaching epidemic proportions (You can read about it here). Why is this happening? Could it be that the average church youth program is more about the kids having fun than teaching them the fundamentals of the Christian faith?
If you decide to choose a church because of the latest program you may be doing more harm than good to your children during the formative years of their lives.
These are two of the reasons that I’ve heard repeatedly as pastor over the years as to why people choose a church to attend. But hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought in choosing a church to attend in Berea.