There are various reasons that we hear people choosing churches to attend and join. Typically, the standard reasons I often hear are ‘it feels good’, ‘I like the music’, ‘it had the best programs’, and ‘our children liked it best.’ Church worship should feel good. Worship hymns should be engaging to the experience. Congregations should be active according to their interpretation of regulatory principles. Children should enjoy worshiping God. However, these are not reasons to join an assembly. We should not choose churches like we pick where to eat. Especially concerning letting children choose a church, we rarely regulate important decisions to the tastes of children. Life would be chaotic, even unhealthy if that practice was followed. As it pertains to ‘feelings’, the heart is described by the Bible as wicked and unknowable (Jeremiah 17:9). Emotions can often be deceiving. When we base our decisions on any of these guidelines we are choosing according to preference and not conviction. We are unknowingly approaching God on our terms and not on biblical convictions.
How then should you determine where to attend? First, have you read the statement of faith of the assembly? Is it bare minimum? Does it avoid actually addressing topics? This may show a problematic tendency to not describe Christian doctrine. What does the church believe about God and His attributes? Does the church believe in the biblical doctrine of the trinity? What do they believe about the word of God? What does the leadership believe about doctrines concerning man, original sin, salvation, Christ, and the second coming? Someone may ask in reply, ‘but the church is fun and loves Christ?’ That may be very true, and there may be many Christ loving believers in that assembly. However, we must know which Christ is being presented each Sunday.
Second, how does the assembly worship and practice the church ordinances? Do you believe that church itself conforms to the prescribed methods in the Bible? Can you find what is being done equally exampled in the gospel and Acts?
Third, is the word of God being taught and lived out? This means that the pastor is actually teaching the Bible and the church is disciplining themselves to be living sacrifices for Christ.
Every Congregation does have a different personality. All three of the above methods are working under the idea that the congregation is a living, zealous community that is willing to minister to you and have you minister with them. Sometimes we may not feel at home with a group of individuals that meet the above qualifications.
Finally, this is not meant to condemn others for their convictions. This is meant to call individuals to have convictions. This takes choosing an assembly to attend away from what we want and our personal tastes. It equally forces us to know the Bible to have biblical convictions. It is true that many people will come to a different set of convictions. With that said, our conscience should be guided by convictions and not preference. Preferences create our current culture of church hoppers. Convictions turn the world upside down.
Originally published May 2019