1/19/15 Tim about 40
What do you look for in a good church? After initiating a gospel conversation with a fellow customer at a Menards store, Tim told me he was new to the area and looking for a good church. From our conversation I knew he was very new to faith in Jesus, so I gave him a few things to look for, not necessarily in order of importance: 1.) Churches that emphasize the authority of God’s Word – the Bible – over man’s traditions. “Don’t get me wrong” - I told Tim – “There are some good church traditions, but what makes them good is that they are based on the Bible” 2.) Churches that emphasize both word and deed. Tim had complained about some hypocritical churchgoers he has seen recently, who don’t practice what they preach. “They seem so holy at church on Sunday, but the rest of the week they’re completely different” Tim had said. They don’t walk their talk. “At the same time, there are churches that do a lot of good deeds without giving God the credit” I explained. “They don’t talk their walk. They make it seem like following Jesus is just a matter of being a nice person.” 3.) Churches whose preachers teach from whole sections of scripture, letting the Bible speak for itself, rather than just cherry-picking verses to support what they want the Bible to say. This is called “expositional preaching”, and I believe it is probably the best indicator of the first two points - that a church is based on the Bible and that it maintains the biblical balance between word and deed. Tim was very grateful for the advice and encouraged me to continue reaching out to people in this way, but looking back I think I forgot the most important characteristic of all – do they truly love one another like the family of God they were made to be? (After all, family members don’t always “like” each other, but the commitment of love goes beyond any personality differences.) Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13) But then again, isn’t pointing people to the truths of the Bible one of the most loving things we can do?