Church: Where to Go? Part 1

by GfG on June 3, 2012 · 4 comments

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Wow, finding a church is almost like picking a spouse.  Well, it is if you are doing it right.  What I mean is that you should consider it carefully, decide it is a fit for the right reasons, and you should commit to faithfulness.

{Today is Part 2 in the Church Series.  Read Part 1 here.}

So… how do you decide where to attend church?

The most important aspect is doctrine.  Doctrine isn’t just for theologians and book worms.  Doctrine is central to worship because you need to be worshiping with those who are likeminded.  Just as Hindus and Christians can not worship together, neither can Unitarians and Baptists.  This is not wrong, it’s how it should be.

While being a Christian means you are called to kindness and love, you are also called to be set apart.  Set apart for Christ.  That doesn’t mean alone (as I’ve already shared… we *are* supposed to go to church), but together with others who are set apart through grace.

Looking for a church should start with the church’s doctrinal statement.  You may have to ask for it.  If the leader(s) say they don’t really have one, leave.  Pronto.

This leads me to a very important part of finding a church: you need to know what you believe and what you don’t believe.  If you have no idea what you believe, then reading a doctrinal statement will be much like reading a Terms of Agreement on a new site.         😉       You won’t understand it or care.

I completely agree with Augustine Rupertus Meldenius:

In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

So, you need to worship with those you agree with in essential doctrine.  That is where you will be sharpened, encouraged and blessed.  You should pray and study Scripture to fine tune your beliefs (your doctrine) and be sure the church has done the same.

Extend grace to those who disagree with you on the non-essentials.  You may even worship with those who see the non-essentials differently.  I’ve found it actually grows me in love, mercy and grace to do so.

These non-essentials are topics that have to do with the faith, but are open to different interpretation and conviction.  These are not the same as the opposite of the essentials.  What I mean is that we do not extend freedom of interpretation in a worship setting to those who believe Jesus was simply a good teacher.  That is blasphemy, not liberty.

And in all the other areas, respond with love (that includes speaking truth, but always in love), but do not worship together.  Visit, interact, and share, but not worship.

As we look for a new church home, the very first thing we study is the church’s doctrine.  Sound theology brings peace and comfort and joy.  Sharing that with others is beautiful.

Sometimes a church’s doctrine may be on the light side.  This is not necessarily a good thing.  It probably means that they see too many things as non-essentials or that they do not want to voice all of their beliefs, either of these are concerns.  Be diligent in seeking out what the church actually believes and teaches.  It really is important.

Church, yes we need to go.  (Part 1 in my series)

Church, we need to go to one that sees the essentials the same.

How do you feel about studying an individual church’s doctrine? 

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