No, I’m not choosing a new church. In fact, I really like my home church, First United Methodist Church in Pensacola. But today I received an e-mail from someone who asked me to share a blog post with my readers. I get few enough such e-mails that I normally at least read them, though I’m not going to link unless I feel there’s something worthwhile.
In this case, while I think the post makes some interesting points, I have a major problem with the entire approach. The post is 10 Tips for Finding a New Church Home.
The points are generally valid. I have some objection to the fact that “mission” is #9. But that is only the minor point.
My major point is that the primary thing we should consider when choosing a church congregation is how we will be able to serve through our membership in that congregation. Now all of the other points in the article may well contribute to our ability to minister. For example, if your church does not have adequate ministries for children, or if you are not challenged and convicted by the sermons, you may find it more difficult to use that congregation as a base for your own ministry.
Christianity is about serving others. When my wife and I have changed congregations, we generally ask first about the mission of the church. In fact, I have quite a “thing” about church mission statements. Most churches have one. What I’ve found in visiting churches is that if the members in general can tell you what the focus of their church is in ministry, you’ll find you have a vibrant church. If the members in general aren’t sure what they are there for, you’ll find the church is dead.
So while this list of tips for finding a new congregation includes many things that should characterize a good church, it looks much too much like the way I’d choose a grocery store.
This leads to point #10: Keep trying until it feels right. I’d suggest instead a prayerful process of selection that ends when you know you will be able to carry out your personal part of the overall mission of the body of Christ as part of that congregation.