Passage: Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I went to graduate school in Dallas, Texas, and knew that I needed a church home during my years there. There were so many good churches close to our school. I spent a few months exploring different congregations until I found Concord Church. The preaching was inspiring, the people were so welcoming, and the worship was passionate. Coming from a smaller Presbyterian church to a large congregation of several thousand people was a big change for me. I remember my first Sunday there--I was the only person who wasn’t African-American, but I just knew I was in the right place. I learned so much at Concord that I would never have studied at seminary. I’m so grateful for how God blesses us and enriches our faith through a wide range of churches that demonstrate His love and goodness! God has designed the church to be an instrument to extend His grace in our lives.
Unfortunately, many people have had negative experiences in church and understandably have not returned because the wounds run so deep. Healing can be a process and involve some courageous steps. Be discerning as you go to a new church. God knows that we usually struggle in our faith when we are not connected with other people who truly love God. As much as we try to build our faith alone, the fact is that we need each other. One tangible example of this is the decision we make each week regarding church. Spiritual decisions include simply choosing to be in places that bolster and cultivate our faith. God doesn’t want us to miss the blessings that are a part of a healthy church family. A church is about the people and the relationships much more than the building. One major indicator that we are in a healthy church is that we are growing there in the grace of God.
What are some key things to look for in a church?
1) A church that is through the roof (Mark 2:1-12): Notice how the four friends cared for the paralytic, they even broke through a roof for him. A church is designed to be a place of healing and brings people to Jesus. The friends are very loving and determined in this passage. A church can physically take care of people and also carry them to Jesus through prayer. In our church recently, people persevered in prayer for a boy who had necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh eating disease), and God miraculously healed him.
2) A church that is not in a cave (1 Kings 19:3-9): Elijah was scared, discouraged, and hiding from the world. The bottom line was that he was wrapped up in himself too much and had stared too long at his problems. A church needs to be courageous in reaching out, not selfish or intimidated by the world.
3) A church that is in many jars (Joel 2:28-29 and 2 Corinthians 4:7): God celebrates diversity, and we should too. Look at the passage in Joel and the range of people who have received the Holy Spirit to minister. Even though we have bodies, like a clay jar, with physical challenges, God has placed His treasured Holy Spirit in us.
4) A church that is not collecting dust (2 Kings 22:8-2 Kings 23:3): In this passage, the Israelites were in a spiritual funk as they had wandered away from the Scriptures. Sadly, God’s Word was collecting dust in the temple. Fortunately, their king named Josiah insisted that the nation turn to God and return to the Word. Their faith became alive again as they were inspired by the Scriptures. A church is responsible to accurately teach from the Bible and give people good spiritual food to eat.
As you look for a church:
1) Remember that every church has issues and struggles: be gracious.
2) Look for a church that actually teaches the Bible during their services.
3) Make sure their doctrine is consistent with the Bible.
4) Stay away from hypocrisy and churches that are self-righteous.
5) Get connected in Bible studies and service when you find a good church.
6) Find a church where the people are loving, and you also sense God’s Holy Spirit there.
1) Have you had good or bad experiences at church?
2) Do you have a church home now where you are really connected?
3) Why do you think so many people skip church?
4) Why do you think God doesn’t want us to miss church?
5) How has participating in a church changed your life?
6) Is there anyone you can invite to church this week?
Acts 2:42-47. This passage covers the DNA of a healthy church.
Acts 20:27-38. There should be deep bonds within a church family.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13. A church’s purpose includes demonstrating Jesus’ love.
1 Timothy 3:1-16. There are character qualifications for church leadership.
2 John 1:4-6. Make sure you continue to walk in truth, obedience, and love.
Prayer:Father God, thank You for the churches in my city. I pray today that You would bless the pastors and leaders in all of the churches. I pray for the wisdom to know which church should be my church family. Please help me to get connected. I don’t want to skip church - I want to stay faithful to You and grow in my faith. Help me to have the right attitude at church so I don’t miss out on time with You or blessings from You. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.