When I came to settle in the Ozarks I was on the run from God. I had disappointed God in my view so I didn’t go to church. I watched it on television and would usually cry (those days I could cry) and to be honest I was miserable. To make a long story short I ended up in a very small Church of God. It was holiness and I honestly didn’t know what that was all about. Men were to swim together and women were to swim together- since I didn’t swim it didn’t bother me. The church was a store- front and we had a small core group and the visitors that dropped in. Since I worked at C of O we had some college students. I truly liked the idea of a store front but my pastor’s wife had a different idea. They wanted a little white church sitting on the hillside with a bell. It didn’t work out and the church faded away.
Kids would tell me that going to a church wasn’t necessary. They told me God was everywhere and He wasn’t confined to four walls. You can read your Bible under a tree; you are free to sing; don’t have to worry about how you dress. Believe it or not many of those kids were raised in church. We would agree that most churches are made up of a group that believe the same things. Then, they would ask me “Which group would Jesus joint?” You can take your child to church; you can teach them principles of faith; you can stress the family lineage, etc. But, when they go away you pray that what you taught sticks! For some it does and for others they get off the path, wander and might come to Jesus. I know I sure did wander-Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Church of God, and finally Pentecost.
Church- how do you decided which one? Pastor Charles Stanley says, “Joining a congregation is an important decision. It isn’t like buying a house or a car. God uses the church to help mature and encourage the believers.” He suggests asking three questions:
1. Do they believe God’s Word is infallible and inerrant?
2. Does the church disciple her people?
3. Does the church have a missionary or evangelist program?
I would like to add another question.
4. Does the Holy Spirit move and is there an emphasis on
You will notice there is no mention of music, décor or clothing choice. You don’t decide on the church because it’s the biggest one in town or it is the one your granny went to eons ago. The things that tear a church a part are greed, pride, selfishness and gossip. There has to be a strong shepherd (who knows the Shepherd) to balance out the purposes for the church. Today churches are known for the things they place emphasis on. For example, great music programs but little prayer. Lots of praise but nothing on Missions. It seems that pastors, evangelists, gospel singers, etc. have an agenda. It takes a shepherd to seek Christ and put what Christ wants first and the rest will fall in to line!