Graduating high school and moving on to college is never an easy and simple transition. One thing that makes this transition even harder is trying to find the right church. How do we find the right church? This is something that we ask ourselves, but is this the right question for us to ask? What does it mean to find the “right church”? Once we can answer these questions, the method that we employ to find this so-called, “right church”, becomes much easier.
The obvious answer to these questions is to go to the Bible, (what a shocker). First of all, it is important to know why Christians should attend a church. The answer to that question is simply because we are commanded to. John 1:6-10 states that we, as Christians, are to walk in the light of Christ, which we do by fellowshipping with other believers and confessing our sins to one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 also tells us to meet together in order to “stir up one another to love and good works” (ESV).
Looking at it from this perspective, if we attend a local church with the intention of confessing sins to one another and stirring each other up in love, finding the right church becomes a simpler task. Another reason that attending a church is important is because it brings glory to God.
“The local church is the hope of the world. Unless we are physically unable, every Christian should be a part of a church. The church is where Christ gets glory (Eph. 3:21) and where we (not just I) shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2:15).
The way that we love each other inside the church defines us as believers. We love by emulating Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We are living as people who have the confidence that no matter what sort of trials or tribulations we experience, we have unwavering hope. The glory that God receives from corporate worship is not simply for Him, but it benefits us as well. The comfort and encouragement that we receive from each other is what separates our actions from the world’s actions. When looking at church from this perspective, it changes things. When we know why we need to be a part of a body of believers, and what we need to do as a body of believers, “church hunting” takes on a whole new meaning. Knowing where to start is half of the battle.
Now where do we go from here? There are many different churches in the area. Some of the biggest ones are IBC, Frontline, Heritage, University Baptist, and Wallace. While a majority of these are Baptist churches there are multiple Bible, Pentecostal, Episcopal, Non-denominational, Methodist and Nazarene churches in the area as well.
When looking for churches, Day Miller, associate professor of music at Candler School of Theology says that there are four things she encourages her students to do when visiting churches. She tells her students to observe the hospitality, word, music, and the sacrament. When you are visiting churches, according to Day Miller, you should observe the hospitality of the church. How are they treating newcomers? How are they treating each other? You should also listen to what they are saying and preaching. Oftentimes, we will listen to a pastor preach from the pulpit and not share the gospel once. It is important to critically think about what the pastor is preaching about and seeking to discern whether or not it goes against the teachings of the bible.
It is also good to pay attention to the music being sung. To see what the words mean, to observe how well it is prepared, or how wide of a variety is sung. Observing sacraments, which means baptism and communion is also important. Many different churches and denominations do sacraments in many different ways, and with a few exceptions this is generally an issue of individual preference. Paying attention to these things will make you aware of the culture of the church. Finally, getting plugged into and serving the church is what your main goal should be when looking to find a church home. Visiting churches in order to find the one that God is calling you to is important, but it is also important to get involved and to serve with and for a body of believers.
Ephesians 5:19-21 says that we should understand the will of the Father, which is to sing hymns and songs to the Lord, to give thanks to the Lord, and to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (ESV). There are many different churches to visit full of amazing God-fearing people. Go out and find the one that God is calling you to. Do not be afraid to get plugged in and to make relationships with those people. There is so much you can learn by being involved in a local church and seeking to grow and to serve alongside other believers.
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