A reader writes in. Key points.
- Grew up as an unbeliever
- Came to the Lord about a decade ago
- Unfortunately got mired in ye olde churchianity
My wife and I left that about a year ago and we are still looking for the right church. I thought we had found a good one but lately I’ve noticed troubling signs. Yesterday, there was a guest preacher and he talked about parenting using Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21. He might as well have acted like the text was addressed to “parents” rather than to “fathers”.
This tells me that they probably don’t have a good understanding of roles.
So, what are the priorities when looking for a church?
Am I responsible to stay there and try to correct such misunderstandings, being patient and forbearing, as several scriptures say?
My goal for my family has been to find a church that supports our growth as Christians (personal growth is sparse in churchianity, as I’m sure you know), but I still feel somewhat lost in this arena.
Also we are in the church of Christ. Feel free to address that in your post, compared to Baptists, Catholics, etc.
There are a lot of things to consider when leaving and/or joining a Church.
- Generally speaking, smaller Churches are often the most “pure” in terms of doctrinal beliefs from what I’ve experienced. I’d be on the lookout for one of those.
- Pray about it. I’m at my current Church because I’ve prayed about it heavily and felt led to go there. It’s not a super ideal situation for spiritual growth and/or using my gifts. However, the community is solid, and I’ve been able to pour out some into the lives of young men.
- The Church is ultimately about “One another.” Of course the leadership is important especially regarding doctrinal beliefs and understanding of how they are applied; however, influence is not solely performed through the leadership as Christians are a ‘light’ even to other Christians at times. An admonishment or rebuke can go a long way especially if you lead by example.
- Although people think of “suffering” or “persecution” to solely be outside the Church due to non-believers, it can also occur inside the Church. Setting a good example within the Church can turn other supposedly Christians hearts.
- If the leadership is open to correction and/or admonishment that’s a good sign. If it’s not then that’s a bad sign.
- Generally speaking, your spiritual walk is NOT Sunday Church but daily taking up your cross to follow Jesus. Sunday Church is only a part of it to fulfill one another verses as well as hopefully receive solid Scriptural teaching and be part of a community.
- The majority of family issues are up to you at home. The Church plays a role as community to your family, but your style of headship is not necessarily going to be influenced heavily by Church teaching as any serious Christians know the Bible and their particular roles and responsibilities. The exception may be if they’re preaching mutual submission in which you should probably get out of there as that’s going to potentially cause friction not only between you and the community but potentially you and your wife.
In general, I’m loath to recommend “Church shopping” as it is somewhat common enough to have a colloquial name. Church shopping is all about “me, me, and me” to find out the best situation which fits your personal circumstances. Additionally, it’s not always about avoiding hardships even within the body.
Maybe your at a situation in your life where God wants you in a particular place where it’s not all about you for a specific purpose. It can be learning humility, finding a mentor in the oddest places, finding solid Christian brothers and sisters where you thought there were none, learning how to deal with difficult people, and things like these.
Church is ultimately about obeying Jesus’ command:
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There’s a saying that goes “you don’t get to choose your family.” It’s a pretty hard truth especially when dealing with family members, but perhaps it’s an even more difficult truth when you consider that other Christians often act in an unChristlike manner.
Thus, overall I’d recommend that you shouldn’t be looking for the perfect Church or even the perfect leadership. You’re looking for somewhere where you can “love one another as [Jesus] loved us.” And that means learning to love through the good times, the bad times, the easy times, and the hard times.
1 Thessalonians 5:12 But we request of you, brethren, that you [i]appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you [j]instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the [k]unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic [l]utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every [m]form of evil.
Sometimes it requires admonishment or rebuke of the unruly. Sometimes it requires encouraging the fainthearted and helping the weak. But all in all, Church is about for one another. That said I would place a bit more importance on leadership and doctrinal issues due to the fact that it is going to influence the attitude of the entire Church. You don’t want to come off as being someone who is divisive and looking to start controversies.
If any commenters have other things to add in the decision making process feel free to add them.