Missionary Charles Studd once wrote, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”
But in America, as the total number of churches and Christians shrink, the remaining churches become larger and more remote from the areas of need.
I recently came across an article that listed five important factors in choosing a church. The list contained two I statements and three my statements. In other words, find a church that caters to your needs.
At the same time there is a growing number of folks that wonder if church membership is a necessary part of the Christian life. Some folks have decided that they are through with church. They have been labeled as “Dones” (done with church) by folks who track such things.
A growing problem in the American church is the idea that God exists for our sake. Perhaps it started with the easy believerism of “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”
This is a far cry from the words of Jesus, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The first five books of the Bible go to great lengths to describe the holiness of God and what it means to be His people. Peter summarizes it this way, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
To be a follower of Jesus is to a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) the church, which is expressed in local gatherings, large and small. The best expression of this is seen in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
When looking for a church the best questions to ask are:
- Did you feel the presence of God?
- If this church were to disappear today would the community notice?
- Can you fulfill your God-given calling here?
The church in America is shrinking in numbers and influence. Is it because many of our churches no longer reflect the ethics of Jesus?