Why Finding a New Church is So Dangerous
In this post, I explain why finding a new church is so dangerous. Whoa. That requires some explanation.
Finding a New Church Has Consequences
There are 3 things to look for in a church that will make your search easier. For those who are searching for a place to call home, the search can be difficult.
There are so many churches that it can be difficult knowing which is right for you.
However, don’t fear, there are some great clues that will help you narrow down your search.
Taking this search to lightly could positively or negatively impact you and your family for years to come.
Know What Sort of Church to Avoid
When searching for a new church home, it is crucial to eliminate churches where you do not belong. Yes, I said it!
Many who have chosen the wrong church, with the wrong people, have left the body and never returned. This has eternal consequences for those who turn their backs on God having been hurt.
Different congregations attract different types of people. This is not ungodly and is quite biblical. God sends various religious leaders, with varying gifts, to His people. Not all are appropriate for every congregation.
For instance, congregations which are “low information” would find me a terrible Pastor. My make-up is to provide a certain type of Saint with the “deeper” mysteries of God.
However, there are “low information” Preachers for these Saints. I don’t say this in a derogatory way. To mock them, mocks their/our Creator. Here is what is interesting about these teachers: many have a deep wisdom in the Word I do not.
There are other low information preachers who have no business standing in a pulpit, however. They always victimize low information congregations.
God didn’t send them: they sent themselves. The Bible has many names for such people – false prophets, hirelings. Deceivers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, etc. What is more
interesting, is most of these sorts who read this, will never accept they are among these deceivers.
This is Jesus Christ identifies them (Matthew 7:15-20):
What I am saying seems harsh – I get that. Yet your soul is on the line, and I have been “behind the scenes” with other Pastors for years.
If I had to assign a number to my assessment, I would tell you six (6) in ten (10) church leaders are not there for the right reasons.
They seem a career, prestige, power, title, women (or men), and money. Why do you think there are, for instance, 5 churches within a few blocks of one another? You don’t really think Jesus Christ is involved in that, right?
What has this to do with the topic here?
Choosing the “God Ordained” church, leader, and congregation, is literally the difference between life and death. Your choice will impact not only your destiny, but those who look to you for guidance as well.
The Right Church Matches Mission with Gifting
If you’re looking for a church that focuses on a certain area of ministry, or that has a certain style of worship, then it’s important to know this from the beginning.
Knowing what to look for can narrow down your search and produce fewer wrong turns. Please do not underestimate the chance to make a bad choice. Prior to beginning, it is critical that you pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.
The Spirit must be sought in all things.
There are a few possibilities when considering the new congregation God has for you and/or your family. First, you were created for a specific purpose, and with the gifting to match.
Next, the church God wants you at either has such a ministry or desires to launch one. If you got to a church and they do not have, nor interested in ministry to match your gifting, that is OK.
You just need to go somewhere else.
I will use the church I Pastor as an example. Three (3) of the most gifted women in our city used to attend prior to my arrival.
Because they were women, our Pastor, being old school, believed “women had their place.” This is true for both men and women biblically. However, this leads to unhealthy places as well.
One sister is a gifted Evangelist, the other a gifted Preacher, and the third a SAVAGE Entrepreneur. Each left because they were “suffocated.”
The future of the ministry required these women, but my predecessor rejected them and in a way, God. Worse, each was discouraged by this leader as well. Do not plant your flag somewhere where your giftedness is not honored.
Being Comfortable Means Being Useless
Be warned on this wise: do not seek a church where you are “comfortable.” WOW! I know that is a huge statement and must be explained.
“Comfort” is a state of ministry which will keep you frozen, stagnant, and ineffective. Any ministry should challenge you in faith and your area of gifting.
Notice I didn’t say: “expertise.”
Expertise is where you are strong, and God is weak. Your gifting is where God is strong, and you are weak. If you trust yourself to perform a task because of experience, sorry, God really can’t use you.
Remember what Paul said (Philippians 3:4-8):
For instance, Moses was a simple shepherd however, God sent Moses to Egypt to free an entire people. His skills as a shepherd would assist in caring for God’s people later, but not “freeing” them.
Moses needed God’s power of miracles to free the people. Seek areas to be challenged in wherever you are led.
Your resume, expertise, and past work experience is irrelevant to the Kingdom! I know this sound weird but, indeed, it is true. The wisest and smartest people on Earth are not leaders in the Kingdom of God.
How could I possibly know that you ask? Here is how (1st Corinthians 1:25-27):
You see, in fact, it is those people who know they have no skills worthy of God which wind up being used mightily!
Location Truly Isn’t Everything
When searching for a new church home, it’s important to do some research on the location. Knowing where the church is located can help decide if a church is a good fit.
It can also help decide if you want to live closer to a certain church.
For those of us who have ever spent time in a major city, we understand commuting is a part of lifestyle.
Driving a long distance to a job or church is just another short trip, even if it takes forty-five (45) minutes.
While location is important, it’s important to remember that you’re choosing a church. Great church homes are worth longer drive(s). Convenience can be the enemy of a “good home.”
Whatever you have been told, attending online church is not an appropriate substitute. I do not say that because I am now Pastoring and desire everyone show up, in-person.
This was my stance prior to pastoring and remains so.
I am a natural isolationist who would rather work in a cubicle, in an empty office building, with no one bothering me. However, this is not God's call in my life!
We are a community of Believers, meant to be together, even if only occasionally.
Ask People Who Know About Local Churches
If you feel like you might be in a rut when it comes to your search, try asking some people that know the local worship landscape.
Asking people that know can be a wonderful way to refresh your search.
Inquiring of people who have been through the search can be extremely helpful. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of the search, it can be difficult to remember others have been where you are.
By talking to people who have been through the process, you can get some perspective and see from a unique perspective. When you talk to them, be honest and ask questions.
For instance, Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram can be a suitable place to ask for local suggestions. Don’t pay attention to those who give you the name of THEIR church. They are hopelessly bias and can’t be trusted to be objective.
Neither can I or our church members! Pay attention to those who suggest a church they may not be a member of.
They cannot be trusted to be subjective.
People like talking about great (and not so great) worship experiences so engage our community.
Totally Ignore Online Reviews
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about online reviews. Online reviews are a great way to get a sense of what other people have to say.
When reading online reviews, it’s important to keep in mind that people don’t all have to agree on everything. Most have extraordinarily little experience with the church and may have only visited.
Smaller churches typically have no reviews, or fake reviews as well. Our church had a “negative” review once form someone whom I know never attended. Be careful either accepting or rejecting a church based on these reviews.
Like anything else, however, if multiple people, unknown to each other, say the same negative thing, it is most likely true. In fairness, people who write reviews are often “visitors” with not much invested in the inner workings of congregations.
Although not always true, it often is in my experience.
You must also understand that some Pastors asl congregants to do this to “recruit” new members. Trust your own discernment, after you have visited several times.
Online reviews have value, but in the aggregate, I simply would not trust them.
When searching for a place to call home, it can be helpful to look for clues. From knowing what to look for in a church to knowing the location of a church, it can be helpful to have a guide.
Knowing what to look for can help you narrow down your search but be open for a “new season” God may desire as well.
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is to pray and ask God for guidance. Please, by the mercies of God, do not take this lightly.
Further, don’t go to the place which is “popular” either. That is the worst mistake you may ever make. Churches that are popular may give you a great emotional experience, but are you being properly discipled?
Jesus ended up on a cross and unpopular. Most of His disciples were killed they were so unpopular. Are you REALLY sure a “popular” Pastor or church are representing Jesus?
Popular Pastors do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ most often.
If so, why are they so loved and Jesus, during His ministry, was so hated?
The choice is yours.
Header Image Courtesy of Aramudi @ Unsplash