It is commonly accepted that men are free to join the church of their
choice. So, men often shop for a church like they shop for groceries.
People looking for a grocery store look at such things as price, quality,
service, and convenience and choose a store that has what they are looking
for. Or perhaps they simply choose to buy their groceries where their
parents buy/bought them. They go there out of habit and because they are
familiar with where everything is. Some people shop for the church which
has what they are looking for. Others just stick with the one that they've
grown up in, where their family is, and where everyone and everything is
familiar. Let's examine the choices in the survey above in light of the
Should I choose a church because it is close to my house? Jeroboam knew
that men loved con-venience. So when he changed the worship of Israel from
the worship of golden calves, he put one in the northern part of his
kingdom (at Dan) and one in the southern part of his kingdom (at Bethel)
and then told the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem."
They went to these more convenient sites and "this thing became a sin", a
sin which eventually led to the destruction of Israel (1 Kgs 12:28-30).
The question must not be, "Is the church convenient?", but "Is the church
worshipping and teaching in a way which is right with God?"
Is the magnetic personality of the preacher what should draw me to a
church? To follow men instead of Jesus is folly. Paul wrote to the
Corinthian church who had wrongly set their preachers up on a pedestal,
"Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name
of Paul?" (1 Cor 1:13). Substitute your preacher's name for Paul's in
these questions and the answers will be the same. One should not be a part
of a church because of any man.
My preacher is such a dynamic speaker. Should this be the basis of my
choice of a church? Paul said he was not a great orator, but stood before
men with fear and trembling. The power of his preaching was not in how he
spoke, but in what he spoke about- Jesus and Him crucified, that his
hearer's faith would not rest on his wisdom, but on the power of God (1
Cor 2:1-5). He warned of smooth talkers who would deceive people into
believing something other than the gospel (Rom 16:17-18). We must look for
a church where the preacher delivers
truth. How he delivers it is not of importance.
I look for a church which has a fellowship hall in which to eat dinner? A
gymnasium/family life center in which to play basketball or watch plays? A
bus in which to ride to the amusement park? After Jesus miraculously fed
5000, they came looking for Him. They did not come because His miracles
had made them believers who wished to be His disciples. Jesus said that
they came because they "ate of the loaves and were filled". (Jn 6:26) How
sad it is that many do not desire to be a part of a church because they
want to be Jesus' disciples, but because they want "the loaves" of the
social activities which churches offer. And, it is even sadder that
churches offer these worldly promotions to draw people in rather than
letting the Cross be the drawing power to true discipleship. (Jn 12:32).
If one doctrine is as good as another, wouldn't it be alright if I just
found a church which agreed with what I believe? This would be true, if
doctrine did not matter. But, it does!! John wrote,
"Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ,
does not have God" (2 Jn 9). Paul warned that the time would come when men
would not endure sound doctrine, but would shop for teachers who would
teach what they wanted to hear (2 Tim 4:1-4). I must not look for a church
which fits my belief, but a church which teaches sound doctrine, the
doctrine of Christ.
Perhaps I'm not shopping for a church at all. I am content to stay where
I've gone all my life. My parents brought me to the church and they still
attend there. The people, the church building, the worship and teaching
are all familiar. Everything is comfortable. But, should I be there? Is
the worship and teaching according to sound doctrine? I need to find out.
If it is not, then I need to have the courage to leave my "comfort zone",
the courage which Paul showed in forsaking the traditions of his fathers
when he found out that they were wrong, in order to gain Christ (Phil
Men are not
free to join the church of their choice. If you are shopping for a church,
let sound worship and teaching draw you to a sound church. If you are
content in the church where you are at, should you be shopping? Perhaps a
study of Jesus' teaching will show that you should go elsewhere. In any
case, let the teaching of Christ and not any other consideration be
the basis of your decision!!