Our guest blogger today is Michael Wallenmeyer, Senior Pastor of Mt. Laurel Evangelical Free Church in Mt. Laurel, NJ. I came across his post on Facebook and wholeheartedly agree with him. Here is his post used by permission.
So how do you go about choosing the right church to get involved with? No question, it is a big choice and we don’t want to mess it up! Here are a few of the items I have heard mentioned when it comes to what people are looking for in a church:
- They want a church that is friendly, warm and welcoming.
- They want a church that has a (fill in the blank) specific program that is important to them.
- They want a church that has a charismatic preacher.
- They want a church that has a dynamic worship team.
- They want a church that is a lot like the one they came from. Or, they want a church that is nothing like the church from whence they came.
I am not suggesting that these things are bad, not by a long shot. But what would the battle-weary, church planting, gospel-driven, persecuted apostle Paul say if we gave the above list to him and asked him to point us towards the church of our dreams? I would love to be the fly on the wall. . .
Perhaps this is a better list. . .
- Do they have a robust understanding of the gospel? Do they preach it, teach it, and seek to live it? Do they see how it is connected to everyday life? Is church immersed in the radical, counter-cultural, powerful life of Jesus Christ?
- Do they have a Biblical understanding of community life? Do they know that to be brothers and sisters in Christ is a radical call on our life? Are they striving to live out the gospel in the context of community Monday through Saturday? Are people making sacrifices during the week to be together? Do they know that the gathered church on Sunday is important, but so is the scattered church during the week? Do they know that discipleship happens in the context of community?
- Do they understand that the church exists for God’s redemptive mission here on earth? This may sound like unimportant theological chatter, but it has tremendous implications as to how the church functions. Does the church exist for itself or for what God is doing here on earth?
- Since they understand God’s redemptive mission are they seeking to live it out in the neighborhoods in which God has placed them? The gospel must be both proclaimed and embodied. Are we sacrificing our lives, our comforts, our time to bring the life of Jesus Christ to others on our street?
I believe it is possible, sadly, that the way we pick a church tells us more about who we are and what we want than who God is and who he has created the church to be.