So which church should I attend?

Almost every time during outreaches, there would be people who want to know which church we are from. They ask this question for three reasons:

1. They want to know if we are Jehovah Witnesses

For all the zeal of Jehovah Witnesses, there’s something about them that irks people. Ray Comfort usually jokes about how in the past he went house to house trying to evangelize his neighbors, and he would make sure that people know that he’s not a Jehovah Witness. One day he went to a house of one lady and he quickly said he wasn’t a Jehovah Witness, only for the lady to close the door in anger because she was a Jehovah Witness. The fact is Jehovah Witnesses are obeying the commandment of Jesus to preach the Gospel to every creature, but there seem to be something about them that irritates people, over and above the Gospel that is itself offensive. It seemed to me during one outreach that Jehovah Witnesses ruined the preaching of the Gospel for all us, and nobody wants to listen to them anymore. It helps to make sure that people know that you are not a Jehovah Witnesses during outreaches.

2. They want to know if you are from their church

Most people don’t have an interest in listening to anybody who’s not from their church on matters as important as the Gospel. So before they can listen to you, they want to make sure that you hold to the same viewpoint as they do. This is usually because they are aware that the bible contradicts their church doctrine in certain matters, so they don’t want to expose their belief as somehow flawed.

3. People want to know which church they should attend

Jesus described the people of His time as sheep without a shepherd. They needed a spiritual leader and they had none. People want to know which church they should attend, especially having repented from their sins. Knowing the politics and doctrinal squabbles associated with almost every church, I refrain from recommending any church to new converts; after all I don’t have a biblical mandate to recommend one church over the other.

After our (my wife and I) conversion, which didn’t happen in a church, we suddenly realized that we needed a church when we can meet with other believers and grow spiritually. Somehow we were faced with a dilemma, since there were plenty of churches to choose from, and they all seemed to preach the same thing. But having been raised in a Pentecostal church, where my grandmother flourished and lived a holy life in, the easiest choice for me was to go to the same church I was raised in. But now I had a challenge because my wife didn’t like this church, and for many good reasons that I failed to recognize and acknowledge. So we went to separate churches for some time, until we decided to look for a family church where we can both attend.

But what is it that a new convert should look for in a church? It is said that there are three things a new convert should look for when looking for a church:

  • Doctrine

It’s easy for any mature Christian to say sound doctrine should be the main consideration when looking for a church, but remember that new converts don’t know much about doctrine, and all they know is that they needed to repent from their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior, which they did. When you have just been born-again, you don’t know what Calvinists and Armenians are fighting for, nor should you care, so being told to consider the doctrine of the church first before you attend it is like being told to drive a Formula 1 car when you don’t even have a learner’s license. As a new convert, you probably don’t even have a bible, yet you are expected to discern the doctrine of the pastor who has a master’s degree in Theology. This is a tough order.

I can never tell you that all churches are good doctrinally, in fact I can tell you that every church has doctrinal flaws, but there are churches that are too flawed to a point where it would be poisonous to attend them even for one service. So you need to take doctrine very seriously, and you can only notice departure from sound doctrine if you make it a point to read your bible as much and fast as possible.

  • Statement of Faith (Church creed)

We understand in 1 Corinthians 15 that the biblical church had a church creed (also called Statement of Faith) that they abided by in all their teachings, and all the new converts like Apostle Paul were taken through it so they can understand what the church believed so they can also abide by it. Almost every church has a Statement of Faith and this statement can help a person understand what the church believes and what its mission statement is. For some churches, this statement is the clearest indication of what you can expect to see in the church and hear from the pulpits. But don’t be surprised if all churches have the same Statement of Faiths, yet they preach different doctrines. Relying on the Statement of Faith to decide which church to attend is as good as thinking your children will be geniuses just because they read Albert Einstein’s biography.

  • Recommendations

On our first Sunday in our current church, we were anxious and understandably so because we didn’t know what to expect from this congregation where we didn’t even know anybody. But all it took for our anxiety to disappear was a recommendation from one church lady, who told us just how good the church is, and the warmth of the believers there. It was what we have needed, and it made it easy for us to come back to the church the following week. However, I don’t think any church member can speak badly about their own church to visitors, so it’s usual for people to recommend their church. So depending on people’s recommendation of their own church is like asking an Apple employee if you should buy an iPhone ahead of a Blackberry.

Even though a church may meet all these three requirements, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right church for you. There are two things you can do to make sure that the church you like is the right church for you:

  • Attend Annual General Meeting

It was the church’s annual general meeting, where all church members meet to discuss issues of importance to the church, that convinced me that I was in the wrong church, and I needed to run as far away as I could from it. The church had the perfect Statement of Faith, and everybody spoke well of it, not to mention the fact that it had rich history of powerful preachers, but the annual general meeting exposed things you wouldn’t necessarily see on a typical Sunday. Annual General Meetings and Church members’ meetings are one of those meetings where visitors are not invited, and for good reason. These are meetings where hypocrisy is exposed, where Christians take off their Christian spiritual attire so they can act like little devils and forget that they are in the house of God. If you wanted to know fellow church members and the sincerity of their faith, then these meetings are the perfect opportunity. At the end of these meetings you should know if you are in the right church or not, but you probably won’t get the opportunity because you won’t be invited. If you wanted to know if you are under the leadership of a good pastor, then how he handles himself in these meetings would say a lot about him. You would know if you have a dictator or a good shepherd. These meetings are sternest tests of the leadership and spiritual maturity of any pastor.

  • Prayer

Paul Washer usually says “salvation is the supernatural act of God in a sinner”. If God has finally convicted you of your sins, and showed you a need to repent, and cleansed you of your sins, then why can’t He interfere in your search for a church? Through prayer, God can lead you to a church that is good for you, and He can keep you there. Usually the advice to pray is scorned of as non-practical, but it’s the best advice you can receive when looking for a church.

You need to understand that churches are infiltrated by godly as well as ungodly people. So by choosing a church means you are choosing to be amongst both the godly and the ungodly. The godly will affirm your faith in Christ, but the ungodly will make sure that they destroy your faith. It is prayer that will keep you from the ungodly ones, just as the Lord’s Prayer says: “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). So if you don’t pray hard about choosing a church then who’s going to deliver you from the evil ones? It’s good to consider every little detail about a church you are considering, but let prayer have the final say about your decision.

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1 Comment »

  1. Which church we attend doesn’t matter as long as we bring the truth to them.

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