It is the question for every individual believer, what is the right church for me? It is a tough individual question. But then when we have to ask that same question in the context of our spouse’s background and children at different stages of their development, finding the right church is as important as any bridge that your marriage relationship will have to cross. It is always helpful to me, to remember that God cares more about His church than we ever could. He cared enough for the church to die for it. You will not find a perfect church. As the old joke goes, if you find a perfect church, it won’t be perfect once you get there – ouch. The point is not to search for a perfect church, with perfect people, but to find the church that God wants to use to grow us, in His way. Church and Marriage One of the first questions that I ask couples that are going through challenges in their marriage is, “How is your relationship with Christ, as a couple?”. A fair amount of times, there is a correlation between when they stopped attending church and when they started having problems in their relationship. By no means is church attendance to be thought of as the same as our relationship with Christ. We can attend church every Sunday and not be any closer to knowing Christ – personally. Only one hour of God a week will leave us, spiritually weak. However, our church time should be seen as a support system to the personal time we spend with God – every day. Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. A strong church is a strong support system to our marriage. The teaching and interactions will challenge us to assess our marriage and behavior toward each other. In addition, it is time spent as a family being fed by God. Church is a Safe Haven for Believers The church is like a foreign embassy, when we are in the House of the Lord, we are safe, we are at home, we are on Holy soil. It has to be that one place where we can come together and worship God together as believers. At work and in the public places we go, we have to be subject to the laws and rules of the world. But find a church where you are welcome to worship and enjoy the Lord out loud and unashamed – what a relief to be in the House of the Lord! Psalms 122:1 I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
How We find the Right Church for Us So, how then, do we find the right church for our family? What should we look for, what should we consider important. Ultimately, these and the long list of over considerations that go into finding the “right church”, are personal decisions. But there are some general broad strokes that need to be considered when weighing the local church in your town and what it offers your family. Family Considerations:
- Talk and find common ground, as husband and wife first. What you are looking for and what is important to the two of you.
- Define what your non-negotiable’s are when considering a church, i.e. Core Beliefs.
- How active do you plan to be in your church? Haha, God might surprise you with this one along the way.
- What do your children need. My wife and I use to visit, McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia, and I was impacted by Pastor Lon Solomon’s heart for children with special needs and what the world would label as disabilities. It was a ministry that was born of the Pastor’s own family situation with his daughter. Hundreds of thousands of families in the Northern Va./ Metro DC area have found a home at this church because of this phenomenal ministry meets the needs of their family. Perhaps your children, need to be around other Christian kids that love the Lord. Maybe there is some uniqueness to the Youth Ministry that will bless your child. What does your child need?
- What ministries are essential to your family? For example, Marriage ministry (hint, hint), Men’s Ministry, Women’s groups. What is essential to you?
- Pray. Before and after each of the above, seek the Lord.
One of the real dangers that we fall into, when it comes to selecting a church typically comes down to only one consideration – can the preacher preach. Of course, preaching is a hugely important component of a healthy church but it should not be the only consideration. I look at the preaching almost like the first time we saw our spouse. That first spark of physical attraction needed no reference manual to tell us, we were physically attracted. But, it is the “who” of the person that really made us fall in love with them. In the same way, judging the health of a church based on the Sunday message does not consider, the character or content of the messenger nor the actual health of the church itself. So, after the message what do we need to consider? Church Considerations:
- Do the core beliefs of the church line up with the beliefs of your family. Look or ask for the church’s statement of faith. At the top of the list, what do they believe about Jesus. Is He God, or not? A strong clear “yes”, with full explanation is what we need to hear.
- Meet with the Pastor. Are you comfortable with them as a leader? What is their story? Ask them what is the biggest thing they have had to overcome in their life and ministry (two separate questions).
- Sit in on some classes. This is a big decision, check it all out. How is their Bible Study. We may never or rarely hear the doctrinal beliefs of a church on Sunday morning. A Bible study or class should give us a good insight into what the church believes and where it is going. How does the teaching sit with your family.
- What is the focal point of the service? It is said that the typical church goer today, wants 45 minutes of singing and “service” with 10-15 minutes of preaching…What do you want, what does your family need?
- Transparency! Money management and decision making. Will you be included or not?
- What programs or ministry do they offer, that fit with your family?
- Do they consider outreach, beyond the walls of the church to be important. It is important. Is there an impact in the immediate area around the church.
These are just a few things to consider, ultimately God has to lead us into a church. But God leads us best when we are engaged in the process, too. Again, you will not a find a perfect church, but God will direct you and your family into the perfect church for you. Here is an additional Scripture to Meditate On:
- Ephesians 4:11-16 (Read the entire book of Ephesians – great insight about church health) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
How about you EYM family, is your family in the right church? Is your family serving as well as being served? Is it time to pray to God for wisdom and guidance for a church home?