Why Is Looking For A Church So Difficult?

My family and I have recently begun to look for a new church home.  I won’t go into the reasons we left our previous church except to say that we just did not “fit” there.  So now we have to find a church where we do “fit”.  It is proving to be more difficult that you might expect.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, unless you have a change of life circumstance (such as moving for a new job) you are probably leaving as a result of some problem.  The problem may be with you or with the church.  As a result, there are probably some frustrations or hurt feelings to overcome.  If not dealt with these will hinder most of us, at least for a while, in the search for a new church home.

Second, many churches are structured and function very similarly to every other church in your area.  This similarity can be a strength but it can also be a weakness.  So when you visit a new church, especially within the same denomination, you are likely to be very familiar with what is going on there.  What are you to do if one of the reasons you are leaving is the “traditional” structure?  For example, lets assume that one of the reasons you are leaving your current church is the emphasis on a person’s decision (decisional regeneration) in the way the altar call is done.  If every other church you can choose to attend does it the same way then you really have no options.  This would contribute to the frustration you have.

Third, everybody has personal preferences in some things.  For example, some prefer a certain style of music in the worship service.  Some prefer a certain style of preaching or a particular Bible translation.  It is common to hear someone say something like “I won’t go to a church that does contemporary music” or “I won’t go to a church that does not use the King James version of the Bible”.  So, in the search for a new church you want to find one that fits most of your preferences.  These preferences are important but should not be the sole cause for rejecting a church.  Placing these types of limitations on the search for a suitable church may cause God’s will to be missed.

Fourth, sometimes there are other factors in the search for a new church.  For example, some have children so they are looking for a church with a biblically sound and vibrant youth and children’s program.   There are many good and healthy churches that may have a small number of kids.  They do a good job with the kids they have but there are just not many of them.  Bigger is not always better but bigger does usually mean more opportunities / activities.

All of these factors apply in my personal situation.  There may be other factors that would apply to you.  None of these should outweigh God’s will in our decision.  The problem comes when we look at these factors and try to filter God’s will through them.  This should never be the case.  I see nothing wrong with keeping these factors in mind while looking for where God wants you to end up but they must be put in their proper place.

Are you currently or have you been looking for a new church home?  If so, what factors are you considering that I have not mentioned here.  Leave a comment and let me know what they are…chances are other will have the same or similar ones.

Is Sunday School Still Important?

No matter what you call it or when they actually meet, do you think Sunday School is worth the time and effort?  This article seems to indicate that it is.  As someone who teaches Sunday School, I can attest that it does..especially if make the effort to have a relationship with the members of your class outside the class settings.

The statistics in the article speak for themselves.  Small group interaction is vital to a person feeling connected to the church.  Once a person is part of a small group they are much less likely to drop out of church.

Do you attend Sunday School?  If not, why not?  If you don’t, you are depriving yourself and others of the benefits of the group.

Participating In Church Discipline For The First Time

Matthew 18:15-17 (15) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (16) But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. (17) If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

For the first time, I find myself in a situation which requires church discipline.  A member of my Sunday School class has gone astray.  As we have prayed about and discussed this situation we have decided that we need to reach out to this member.  I am torn.  I feel the necessity to make the effort to bring the member back into the flock but I am not sure that it will do any good.

At this point, we are going to try if he will agree to meet with us.  The pastor has expressed a willingness to go with us.  I don’t want to put this off on the pastor but I am a bit relieved that he is willing to go with us.  I am not sure how to express that we care about this member and still be completely clear that he is in sin and in need of repentance.

Have you been involved in situations that required church discipline before?  If so, do you have any tips on how to do it effectively?

2008 SBC Resolution On Integrity In Church Membership

Dr. Tom Ascol is planning to re-submit his Resolution on Integrity in Church Membership at this years annual convention.

I hope that it will get passed this year. Keep in mind that resolutions are non-binding things. No SBC church is required to follow any resolution passed at the annual meeting. Having said that, most churches are well served to follow the resolutions.

At my church, we have begun to examine our membership roles and to clean them up. We have over 600 “members” but on any given Sunday morning service we have about 80-85 people in attendance. Sunday evening and Wednesday evening drop to about 40 or so. The pastor has had volunteers call people on our role who are not attending to see if their status can be determined. (For example: Are they attending somewhere else? If not, are they willing to come back or not? Etc.) There were many that the contact information that we have is no longer correct so we can’t find them. From this, we are going to move these non attenders off the active roles and onto an inactive list. We are also planning (at some point) to try reach out to those that might be open to coming back to see if we can bring them back into the church.

What do you all think about this issue? Is it something that we should worry about or is it an issue not worthy of the time and effort?

To Make Our Churches Grow We Need To…..Make It Harder To Join?

If we really want to see our churches grow, we need to make it harder to join and we need to be better about excluding people. We need to be able to show that there is a distinction between the church and the world – that it means something to be a Christian. If someone who claims to be a Christian refuses to live as a Christian should live, we need to follow what Paul said and, for the glory of God and for that person’s own good, we need to exclude him or her from membership in the church. [Mark Dever – 9 Marks of a Healthy Church – p. 170-171]

Dever’s comment surprised me. In fact I had to read it twice. Do you agree with it? After I thought about it for a bit I think I agree with it and here is why. I think it is an issue of commitment. We need to make sure that the people who wish to join our church are committed to Christ and our church before they are allowed to join. That would head off problems down the road. It also gives us a chance to let the prospective members know what is expected of them as members (Dever addresses this point also).

What do you think…should we accept anyone who wants to join as soon as they express the desire to join or be more deliberate in the process?