12 NEW CHAPTERS, 365 NEW POSSIBILITIES.
As the year rolls into mid January many reflect on the past year feeling bereft of purpose, left entering the new year in hopes of finding reason. A courageous few find themselves resigning their hopelessness at the steps of the altar, chasing their faith. Perhaps this is the reason we’ve recently noticed new faces at Sunday service. Taking a leap into faith is a difficult one, “what if I’m judged” “am I good enough for God’s love” “will I have to face my past mistakes” “will I be accepted”. Those concerns are all common, but not as important as “is this the Church for me?” Choosing your church is not a light task, but it can be made easier.
I’ll tell you upfront that I’m a member of a Non Denominational Christian Church but this writing says nothing in regards to favoring a denomination. I’ll also tell you I was raised in a very different style of church, moving on from it was a choice I made with a heavy heart but necessary to be able to reach my relationship with Jesus as it is today. Here is an account of how to make a difficult decision to reap an invaluable reward.
KNOW YOUR BELIEFS.
Stop feeling like an inferior imitator, dig into scripture and follow your heart. Stand up for what you believe is right in the Word not the truths others propose on you. If you know what you believe in and follow it in your heart than that will reflect in choosing your church. Not all churches believe the same things, not all churches follow direct guidance of the Bible, many churches have self-imposed rights, rituals, and bi-laws. God asks that we have blind faith in His Word but I don’t believe he proposes blindly following humans in his teachings, learn your beliefs and find your church counterpart.
(Additionally; some churches are far more evangelistic or centered around spiritual gifts, do not be turned away from Christ by these things if they make you uncomfortable, these churches just aren’t for you. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you are at a conservative church where you feel outcast because you are more vocal in your faith than I implore you to find a place of worship better suited to express your gifts.)
EXPLORE THE WORLD WIDE WEB.
Take the heuristic approach, most churches these days have a website that maps out their thesis or mission statement. Often available are administrative staff and elders pages with credentials. It’s very important in choosing your church that the leaders in question maintain the beliefs and education to go alongside the beliefs and teachings of the Church. If you feel unease in a minister/priest/pastor/elder than request a meeting, their life work is dedicated to serving you and they would love to clear up any doubts or concerns. If their response is rank with hostility or hubris then I would advise to steer clear of that church, but in return it’s never okay to walk in guns loaded with accusatory questions or hateful hearts. God is loving and graceful and we are made in His image even when it seems impossible to deliver our words under that umbrella.
FIND YOUR FELLOWSHIP.
When you feel prepared to test the waters be ready to observe and meet new people. Will you introduce yourself to others or do you feel unworthy of fellowship in exchange for a solitude road to perdition. I’m telling you that you don’t deserve to live in solitude. Be as cheerful and confident as can be mustered and if the congregation greets you back in the same manner than you may have found your place. Don’t fall victim to the Devil’s game of loneliness, churches are organized to bring like hearts together so that we may serve one another and share the beautiful life we’ve been given. To fully believe this you might change your understanding of the word church, it is not a building or structure but a body of people following the same beliefs. When choosing your church ask if there are home groups, life groups, classes, prayer groups, book clubs, craft or sports groups. Wherever interests land we must humble ourselves and get involved with a group of fellow believers. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
WILLINGNESS AND DESIRE.
Being part of something delivers a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s natural to feel at home in a church, to feel less judgement than in the external world. When seeking a church it’s difficult to decipher where you truly belong, but if you find a willingness and desire to attend Sunday morning service, Tuesday night book groups, or helping with Thursday youth leadership than rejoice and celebrate victoriously because you’re finding your place in an ever evolving machine. Along with fearlessly being part of the congregation you may find yourself called to serving in small ways or large, this too is a blessings that comes with stepping out of yourself and walking in faith.
Wherever you are in your journey, be strong for it’s a testimony of your faith in Christ.
“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV
Thanks for reading.