We have lot’s of Christians who pass through Soma looking for a church. They are looking for….well something. I am surprised at the number of people who cannot articulate what is is they are looking for in a church.
It’s true there are a lot of variables in a church. But what are you looking for when you look for a church? Good Bible teaching? Something that just ‘feels’ right? Opportunities to serve? Somewhere convenient? Some time convenient? Fellowship? Good parking? Good kids or youth ministry? Air conditioning? Many of these are hard to pin down. Some are more important than others. How do you work this out? I would suggest one question will make a lot of these things clear:
Would you feel comfortable inviting a non-Chrisitan friend to this church?
Why is this such an important question? Here are 3 quick reasons why.
1. If the Gospel is central then it should be obvious.
If the church is focussed on the Gospel, and it should be, then it should be clear to anyone who walks in. Because the church is focussed on the Gospel, it will want to make things accessible and understandable. People will be welcoming of new people. But it should also be clear and unashamed that this is about Jesus and his message. It is weird to think hear some people’s testimonies who have been good Bible teaching churches for years but had not heard the Gospel. It cannot be taken for granted.
It may be that you are tempted to think “I want something deeper” but be wary if this. Looking for something deeper can be a road to heresy. What your Bible teacher should be helping you do is focus on the Gospel, how it impacts your life, how you understand it, how you can explain it better, etc. The more you are exposed to the Gospel the more it will impact your life. If you do want to push your understanding, do the hard work and pick up a book and read it. What happens on Sunday will help keep you focused on the central truth as you do this.
2. If the Gospel is central on Sunday then it probably is for everything else as well.
To be honest church leaders can get distracted. It’s easy for us. But if a church can get this right then it’s theology, systems and philosophy of ministry even budget will be driven by the Gospel. While this may make for an uncomfortable church, it will make for healthy one. I am sure people will find exceptions, this is guideline and not a rule.
3. This question will put other issues in order.
Once you, as a church shopper, get this right then other things will be put into perspective. Perhaps the music is not your thing, maybe the building is not the air-conditioned comfort you are accustomed to. There are so many dimensions to church but asking this question will put this into perspective. If you have answer this question in the affirmative then the other things will be bearable.
What do we learn from this?
If you are looking for a church, what is your criteria? Really? Is it about you and what you can consume or is it about the gospel? I think this question needs to be at least on the list, if not why not?
If you are leading a church, are you running a church that people would invite their friends to? At this point it would be helpful not to assume and ask people about this. What do you need to change to make it more Gospel focused?
If you are in a church but don’t feel you could invite someone, before you ditch the church, ask the question “why not?” If it is because it is not cool enough, good luck with that. No church is cool. But if there is a legimate reason please take this up with your leader. He is probably blind to it and there is nothing more encouraging that someone who is thinking of inviting people to church