As a pastor of a local fellowship, I am realizing that as visitors are searching for a place of corporate “worship,” their priorities are not always biblical priorities. Some seek to find a place where they FIT IN, but for the wrong reasons.
There are some who will look for a place of worship because their children have specific needs, or they have specific desires for their children. The thinking in our times seems to focus on meeting personal needs more than doing what is best for others. Add to that the lack of biblical instruction at home and the situation becomes more complicated. There are churches where the children’s ministry may have a larger facility than the adult gathering. Now, I am not saying ministering to children is unimportant––it is very important as long as it supports the parents existing influence at home, and is subordinated to the church’s goal of preparing future worshipers as God saves them.
Others may choose a place of worship that fit their particular style: music most likely being the most popular category. Then there may be another group that will not accept a pastor who wears a suit, while others will not attend a place of worship if the preacher does not dress in a suit. Again, what have we learned from God’s word to make these criterion more important than the pattern in Scripture God has established? Or add the person who refuses to come because a gathering, while faithful to God’s word, may not have enough male or female attendees. The list goes on and on.
The word of God makes it clear to us God seeks true worshipers (John 4:23). And the only criterion God has established is that worship to Him must be in Spirit and in truth. So what must we look for? What is a pattern for us to base our decision? A place where truth is proclaimed and that truth will lead us, through the work of the Holy Spirit, to worship God from our hearts by faith, seen in obedience. Because ultimately that is what God seeks.
So how do we work though the process of finding a place that fits? Let me pose a couple of common questions to help think through this.
- What about a place for my children? Don’t they need a church that has over 3,000 people and 800 volunteers to serve while I attend? Again, is that what God seeks? And in reality, are we not all servants anyway? Should you not seek a place where instead of focusing on your personal desires, you seek to serve others? The answer is quite clear. There should be nothing that impinges on what God’s word declares. Never look for a place that fits your human needs. Your spiritual needs are eternally weightier than your family dynamics. And maybe your faithful attendance will help build the children’s ministry.
- What if a place of weekly worship does not have what I need? The answer to that question is: what is our greatest need when we gather? The greatest need is for us to be able to fellowship together and to hear God’s word. We gather to worship corporately and to hear God speak to us through His word. When we do, we are being equipped for service, maturing in the faith, growing in Christ, and growing in practical unity (Eph. 4:12-16). That is what every believer should look for. A place where you can serve God, hear God speak through the preaching of His word, and an opportunity to serve others.
So the goal is prayerfully find a Scripture-approved place. That is where you will best fit in.
Quite frankly, if anyone is caught looking for a place to please your personal pallet, you are more like a consumer than you are a Christian. And to follow Christ is to give of yourself in service to Him and others. Additionally, Scripture’s model of an appropriate place to attend prioritizes faithful teaching of God’s word. Everything else is secondary, and the Lord will provide just what you need when you make His priorities your priorities.
If you want to know where you will best fit in, find a place where believers embrace the entirety of God’s word as inspired, teach God’s word as authoritative, encourages you to obey God’s word, and provides an opportunity for you to participate in being a doer of God’s word.