Summertime is often when people move into our community. Mid to late August and often into the early fall months we have the delightful experience of meeting new people in church as they “church shop” in their new location. I would like to devote the remaining space to provide a few church shopping tips.
You will want to look for a church where the pastor(s) are pleased with where they are and excited about what God is doing. Hank Hanegraaff writes, “The first sign of a healthy well balanced church is a pastor who is committed to leading the community of faith in the worship of God…” The statement needs some qualification so it doesn’t sound like pastoral vanity. The pastor isn’t the church nor all that there is to the church. However, healthy churches build strong pastors and healthy pastors build strong churches and it is often the teaching pastor that has first impact on newcomers, both visibly and audibly.
You will want to find a church where God is worshipped. Worship is realizing the loftiness of God, recognizing the lowliness of man and rejoicing that through Jesus that gap has been closed. Worship styles may vary, because worship is not a form, but a heart attitude. Worship includes prayer, music, praise, testimony, giving and the teaching of the Word of God.
You will want to search for a church that believes and faithfully teaches the Bible. The Bible provides information, instruction and direction for our daily lives and clearly teaches how we can be confident about going to heaven at death. It is the book that deals with both time and eternity and what it does not address in particular it speaks to in principle. Long boring sermons need not be the protocol, but Bible teaching is paramount.
Typically our search would begin with seeking for a friendly, program oriented church. I would like to suggest that if the aforementioned qualities are in place you will find friendly people engaged in the lives of others and programs adequate not only to meet your needs, but to incorporate you in meeting the needs of others.
The church you are looking for will challenge, excite and build you, because it will be working closely with Jesus who promised in Matthew 16:18 that, “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” God bless you as you search!
— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church