What do YOU look for in a church?
By Teresa LeNeave
You would think it would be so easy to find a church that fits your family, but it's not. What are the things you look for when you're looking for a place to worship? Just in the past week, six people have talked to me about how discouraged they've become with churches they attended. One couple goes from church to church searching for one where they feel they "fit".
What is the number one thing most people look at when seeking a church? It is the overall atmosphere of the church. What kind of impression does the pastor make on you? Does your instincts tell you he's kind, understanding and forgiving? Does he seem hard or gentle? How welcomed are you by the congregation? What do they provide to keep your young child from seeking the world's entertainment? These are all valid questions, but the answer most sought after is usually never spoken out. It's the answer that's picked up, subconsciously, that brings them back or keeps them away.
It's a yes, or no, answer. Did I feel better, or worse, when I left? Did I feel the presence of God in the building, or nothing at all?
The general feeling of a church can't be candy coated. Whatever it is, it has to be genuine because people immediately pick up on atmosphere.
I may be wrong, but I think people are looking for genuine kindness in home, in churches and in business. Saying we love others is not proof of love, but kindness is. People don't get a lot of kindness in the world, so the church should be the "haven of rest"; a place to feel close to a people; a place to be enticed to draw closer to God. There's no amount of hand shakes that can compare to a genuine heart-felt smile. A genuine smile is felt.
A church can have great music, great people and a great preacher, but without the atmosphere of kindness it will be hard to keep people returning. Churches have an atmosphere just like a home does.
People also look for effective churches; churches that make an impact in the life of their own home, not just the community. Having said that, what constitutes an effective church?
While everyone's answer will be different, one thing is sure: we can find the answer in God's Word.
The book of Acts provides nine proven elements by which the church was characterized. The church of Acts found effectiveness through sound biblical teaching, fellowship among the believers (in those days it was going to each other's homes), the sacraments of communion, prayer, care for each other, good stewardship, helping the needy, worshiping Jesus, and continuous evangelism. None of these can be spiritually complete without a spirit of kindness.
The church of Acts gave the people a compelling sense of a better future with God on their side. I'm willing to bet when God examines the effectiveness of a church, the heart of the people is what He's looking at. The Bible clearly states, "Man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart".
God is interested in our attitude toward Him and his children. Honor begets honor. "Be ye KIND, one to another, TENDERHEARTED, forgiving one another (not throwing the past up), even as God for Christ's sake forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). Satan is constantly scheming against churches to hinder faith, but God's power far outperforms anything the devil can do.
1. When you can, read Colossians 3:12-17
2. Send me an email saying what YOU look for in a church. Please tell me what town you're from. For your privacy, I will publish your comments, but not your name. Only your comment and name of town will be published. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org