A church is not a building. Whether you’re considering the Christian faith, looking for a community or are a long term believer, many church seekers make the mistake of looking for a building to call their home church. Church is the “body of Christ” – which could be a small gathering of three believers in an underground gathering or thousands of worshippers gathered in a stadium.
Because churches come in so many forms, it can be a challenge choosing the right church. There are a lot of factors believers may want to consider. Here are a few important ones.
Different churches put emphasis on different parts of doctrine, but the good news is that, overall you’ll find that almost every church is in agreement on core doctrine statements. Apart from obvious cults like Jehovah Witness and Mormon churches, nearly any church you choose to attend will be “safe” in regards to its core doctrine. But when looking for a church if you do spot something which goes against the Bible, which seems to be a core belief rather than an accidental mistake, try another church.
Through the variety of churches and denominations available you’ll find a wide range of emphasis on aspects of faith. One church might have a strong focus on intercessory prayer, another church has it’s biggest focus on missions; one church might focus on providing practical service as the core expression of their faith, while another church will be most focused on the importance intimacy in worship or evangelism, or using spiritual gifts. One church focuses on in-depth teaching and exegesis of the Scriptures, while another church is focused on making sure its members take action and apply what the scriptures teach.
There may be some of these aspects of your Christian faith that are more important to you, so finding a church that shares that focus can help.
Shape and Size
As stated before, churches come in many shapes and sizes. Big, small, diverse, unified, individualistic, traditional, contemporary. Different churches work best for different lifestyles.
For example, Grace Evangelical is a small and humble Hamilton church. It’s size means it’s easy to form personal and open relationships with other members. This is great for accountability and community! Families and the elderly alike can benefit from this church.
In stark contrast is Eastside Church which is a large and well known church. It’s size means it is great for evangelism, hearing a variety of opinions and creating a tremendous worship environment. Again there is a wide variety of ages who attend – families, young couples and youth, baby boomers and elderly.
Encouragement in Worship
According to What Christians Want to Know, “The church is about worship to God the Father. That is what we exist for. He created us to worship Him. Jesus makes this point very clear when He is asked by the Pharisees which commandment is the greatest. Jesus says (Matthew 22:37 & 39), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.”
An Opportunity to Serve and Connect
When choosing a church it’s important to be careful of taking on a consumer mindset – purely shopping for the ideal church that suits your needs. Joining a church is not just about what the church can do for you. Your church is also a place to serve others through ministry, not just be a pew-warmer.
And it’s a place to form real relationships to do life together with other Christians. Through these relationships you’ll be encouraged in your faith and also be able to encourage others in their faith.
So when looking for a church look for one where you can be involved in serving, and form real friendships with others.
This is just a small sample of things to consider when choosing a church. The best place to really go for counsel when choosing a church is straight to the founder – God. Make sure you pray about it as he might even guide you to choose one that doesn’t tick all your boxes, but is the right one that he has for you.