What Kind of Church Should We be Going To?

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If you’re reading this right now, it’s because you saw the title and thought to yourself, “At last — someone’s finally come up with a way to find the right church for us!”

If only it were that simple!

When it comes to looking for a church home, there’s no “formula” for finding a “perfect fit.” But there are a few questions you can ask of just about every congregation you visit . . . and how these questions are answered will tell you quite a bit about whether or not that fellowship is the place for you.

1. What Style of Worship is Meaningful to Your Family? This might sound like a fairly obvious question, but you’d be surprised at the number of families who never ask it. Just you were raised in the Lutheran tradition and your spouse grew up a Methodist doesn’t mean you’re limited to either of those two denominations. Determine what your family right now is most comfortable with — then start your search.

2. What is the Church’s Position on the Authority of Scripture? These days, “spirituality” is in vogue . . .and many “specialty churches” are cropping up. They focus on the spiritual overtones of temporal desires —  health, wealth, happiness, just to name a few — and then look for some sort of biblical justification for their claims. The true Church is committed to the study, preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Any congregation that does not accept the Bible as inerrant and foundational isn’t worth your time.

3. How Close is the Church to Your Home? This might not sound like a big issue, but trust me — it’s huge. Being involved in a church fellowship means more than just attending for an hour on Sunday morning . . . and the closer you live to your church, the more likely you are to get involved. Conversely, the further away your home is from the church property, the more likely you are to “sleep in” every now and then, or miss activities because they’re “so far away.”

4. What Kind of Sunday School Programs Does the Church Offer? Notice I didn’t use the term “youth group” here . . . we’ll address that one later. Bible instruction outside of the sanctuary is just as important if not more than inside. A healthy, thriving church offers solid Bible teaching for every member of the family . . . and not just on Sunday mornings either. If the pastor is the only member of the church who can lead a Bible Study, that congregation is living on borrowed time.

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5. What’s the Youth Group Like? Is it large? Small? Does the church even have one? When it comes to youth ministry, it’s easy for myopia to set in when it comes to the youth department. A congregation that’s top-heavy on preschool and elementary activities but thin in the middle and high school departments could make the worship experience a burden for your teenager. Look for balance — and remember that size doesn’t always matter. And, yet?

6. Are You Looking for a Small or Large Fellowship? Some of the healthiest, most thriving churches around have no more than a couple of hundred members. Likewise, just because a “mega-church” is large doesn’t make it spiritually healthy. When it comes to making the “size” decision, determine the reasons you’d want to attend either. Are you looking for a large congregation to hide away in? Is the smaller fellowship so appealing because you hope know one will ever really get to know you? Size doesn’t make a great church ? good soil for spiritual growth does.

After you’ve determined which kind of church you’d like to attend, the journey begins. Ask a co-worker or a neighbor for a recommendation. Check the phone book and the Internet, too.

Church attendance is important. It’ll help you grow stronger in your faith . . . and the benefits your children will experience as a result are immeasurable!

Copyright © 2006 Jim Burns, Used with permission.

Read more from Jim at homeword.com

In response to the overwhelming needs of parents and families, Jim Burns founded HomeWord (formerly YouthBuilders) in 1985. HomeWord is a Christian organization designed to provide assistance to adults worldwide as they help young people make wise decisions and lead positive, vibrant, Christian lifestyles. Multiplication and Leverage: While absolutely committed to young people, HomeWord equips parents, grandparents and youth leaders; those who daily reach out to kids. By equipping adults, and leveraging those adults to reach kids, HomeWord reaches more young people more cost effectively.

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About Jim Burns

bio-burnsJim Burns, Ph.D., is a renowned youth and family expert, an acclaimed author, and the founder of HomeWord, a radio program that reaches more than a million people across the country each day. In partnership with Azusa Pacific University, he established and now provides leadership for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family, a research and training institute offering biblically based resources for parents and youth. Under Burns, the center has become the largest provider of Christian parenting and youth seminars in the United States. His passion is communicating to adults and young people practical truths to help them live out their Christian lives. Burns is a three-time Gold Medallion Award-winning author and has written books for parents, youth workers, and students. He also speaks in person to thousands of people each year around the world. Burns and his wife, Cathy, and their daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi, live in Southern California. For more information about Burns, visit homeword.com.
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