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.
Posted by Amy at 9:16 AM