Monday, May 9, 2011

Looking for Home


Yesterday I went to church, which has lately been an interesting prospect. We moved fairly recently, and have prayerfully tried a few churches but still seem to be looking for a real home. Most of the churches near us are major mainline denomination churches and while folks have certainly welcomed us, we have had trouble finding solid Biblical teaching. Much of what we encounter seems to be simplistic theology that does not care to venture far beyond the safety of "God is love," for fear of offending, and liberal ideas about gay rights and feminism abound.

For those who have had to do this, how does one find a good church home? When we moved, we were prepared for what we encountered because my husband and I met with our pastor before moving to ask him which church/churches he would send us to. Unfortunately, the closest church he knew of to which he would send people lies more than an hour away from us.

As we have gone through this process, my husband and I have come up with a list of things that we would like to see in a church and here is what we have so far.

- It must uphold the Bible as authority, the unfallible Word of God.

- Related to this, the church must be Christ-centered and preach the gospel. Preaching and instruction should be fully in line with Scripture. In addition, I look for teaching that has some meat to it rather than something light that merely skims the surface.

- Though we have not yet been blessed with children, we pay attention to how they are treated in the church. Are they welcomed? Are parents encouraged and adminished to raise their children according to Biblical precepts?

- How does the church address marriage? Does the church support and preach biblical teachings on marriage, or are they indistinguishable from a secular worldview?

- I look for hospitality within a church. Does this church welcome newcomers or are they cliquish? We visited one church where not only did no one greet us, but one woman even remarked, "I've been going here for years and I really don't have time for newbies." Ouch.

- In addition to hospitality, I try to get a sense of how members treat one another within the church. This is hard to do even after visiting several times, but my husband and I both come from churches where members encouraged and supported one another in their Christian walks, and this is what we would like to find again in our new community.

- I also look to see how the church engages with the community and the world. Does the church support missions and show a real heart for it?

- The leadership of the church should conduct itself according to the principles laid out in Scripture. This applies not only to gender roles, which is how I most often see scriptural leadership defined, but also in how leaders in the church are selected and how church discipline is handled.


I hope this list does not make me look too picky, and for those who have had experience in trying to find a new church home, I would love to hear your stories and recommendations on what to look for in a church. My husband grew up overseas as his father spent 30+ years as a missionary in Africa and then in a closed country, so he always worshipped at the mission. I grew up in a wonderful small but very strong church and when I got married, my childhood pastor sent us to another truly wonderful church, so our experience at settling into a new church home is quite limited.

5 comments:

  1. May I recommend that you do a search for a church on the 9 Marks site. Every church we've been to that we've found through the site has been fantastic.

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  2. Thank you for that suggestion! I was not familiar with the 9 Marks site, but when I checked there, I was able to come up with a list of what sound like promising churches to visit.

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  3. I love your list! I'm also going to check the 9 Marks site - my mainline denomination is all too willing to let go of biblical teaching in order to get people in the door to pay the bills and fill the pews.

    Found you from the Blog Frog site! Looking forward to looking at your other posts! God bless you!

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  4. I love your list and think you are making a wise decision for being picky on who your church family will be. Currently my dad is ministering at a small church with an amazing church family that encourages me every week. My husband and I are able to work with the youth and feel like we are making a big difference. I hope you find the right church for your family. I am a new follower. God bless you.

    www.wewillwalkforeverholdinghands.blogspot.com

    Rachel

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  5. I've only really attended 3 churches regularly--The one I grew up in, the one I went to while attending Malone College and the one my husband and I currently attend and found together. There are a wide range of churches and I'm so glad the one we currently attend is so good.

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