And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
So . . . you’re looking for a church. I’ve been there, done that. It’s not an easy task! The way I see it, searching for a new fellowship is a lot like looking for a new home. I mean, think about it; we may get married there . . . or raise our children . . . or settle down and retire! History and community are built within the walls of the places where we choose to worship and hear the Word.
Now, some people would argue that finding a good church is more like finding a spouse. I disagree. God designed marriage to be forever, but I think our church families evolve and change. In fact, fewer and fewer people continue in the same church body they grew up in. We move out of town, change our theology or worship preferences, and for a few of us – sad to say – our churches dissolve and close their doors.
So what do we look for when seeking a house? For our family, it’s the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, overall size, kitchen layout and of course, location, location, location! There is a list of ‘have to haves’ and ‘like to haves’. (I would absolutely love waterfront and my husband would drool over a big garage, but these are on the ‘dream’ list . . . not the ‘reality’ list).
The same procedure happens when we set out to find a new church home; we create a mental checklist and start searching. Some people are very comfortable in mega churches, while others prefer a small, informal gathering. Worship styles for sure are important and so are good, safe children’s programs and nurseries for those with young families.
Well, one Sunday we felt lead to search for a ‘house church’ and ended up in a very different kind of fellowship. Arriving, we sat down and right away noticed it felt unlike anything we’d ever experienced. Not like, ‘wow, this is it’ . . . more like, ‘wow, what is this?’
After the first song, I realized I hadn’t even been trying to worship, as I was too busy gawking and staring; trying to make sense of everything. It was so not what we were used to. Just when I was about to tap my husband’s leg and ask him if we could duck out and leave (note – we always sat near the back on these church hunting expeditions . . . just in case), I felt as if the Lord was urging me to ‘take Him out of the church box I had Him in’.
I dropped my hand back into my lap, closed my eyes to shut out the distractions, and began to sing along with the worship. Two songs later I could barely breathe. The Spirit of the Lord was in this place! I was so moved and so touched . . . in a way I hadn’t been in years. And to think I had almost walked out!
Leaving early would have been like ignoring a listing for an oceanfront house which was in your modest price range and included a red Ferrari as part of the package, but you didn’t even book a walk through due to the color of the fridge. How silly! Can you even imagine?
Well, that’s almost what I did that day. Thankfully, I didn’t miss out and instead fell in love with this new body of believers! It’s been a beautiful blessing.
So, spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord where He’d have you go. Then do your searching but don’t put your church expectations in a box – allow for some movement and change from your norm. You just might be surprised!
Father, thank You that You have placed us in a country where we have choices when it comes to worshiping You. Help us to not confine You to a box of any kind, but to remain open to wherever You lead us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.