FINDING THE RIGHT CHURCH – Part 1 of 3

God has created us for community. It’s called “church.” Church is where we grow, encourage one another, share our spiritual gifts and become accountable to one another. It is where we praise God together, pray together and worship together.

Recently I was asked by a friend who had moved to a new community and was looking for a new church home, “How can I tell if a church is right for us?” and “What are some things we should look for and some things we should avoid in a church?” Those are very good questions, and I thought it would make a great post for discussion. So let’s start with some churches you might want to avoid.

CHURCHES TO AVOID …

  • A CONTROLLING CHURCH: I’d avoid any church that feels they have “authority” over all areas of your life. If you have to ask the leadership’s permission to change jobs or permission to move … that’s probably a church you should avoid.
  • A PERFECT CHURCH: Avoid any place where everyone pretends to be sinless and without problem. Look out for anyplace that you feel you must dress up and smile every Sunday for an hour of deception, pretending like everything and everyone in the church is perfect. Simply put, avoid a place where no one ever discusses their faults, struggles or problems.
  • A WE’VE “GOT IT ALL RIGHT” CHURCH: I wouldn’t want to be part of any place that felt they were a perfect church. Any place that believes that they have all the answers correct and think they are the only ones that have it “all figured out” … that’s not the place for me. The “perfect church” feels like they’re right and everyone else in the world is wrong.
  • A CHURCH THAT’S NOT BIBLICALLY BASED: Avoid the church that is more concerned with how they look socially and in the community than how they compare to the word of God. A church that considers the bible to be “out-of-date” and old fashion may not be a church at all. Find a church that seeks the truth from God’s word, follows it faithfully and shares it with others.

Those are a few churches that I would have on my “avoid” list. Tomorrow – Finding the Right Church part 2: “Churches to Consider.”

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
17 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Mommysmart says:

    That is all perfect and some of that I would have never thought of on my own.

    Great advice! I can’t wait to see the other two parts. You might need to submit this three part post to a christian magazine. Or, you could just write that book that I keep hinting about and include this one. Thanks Trey!

  2. Merry says:

    Trey, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks now. Not sure I’ve ever commented.

    My husband is a youth minister and we’ve really been struggling in ministry the last 6 months or so. Your posts reflect a lot of the ideas and beliefs we have, but the church leadership has totally different ideas. I think they are really trying to be or pretending to be “the perfect church” you just described. It is soooo frustrating and discouraging to be in the middle of it.

    While there are many things and people in this congregation and in the community that we love, we are growing weary of being made to feel like we have to look like we have it all together and seeing the stress that it causes the members.

    I wholeheartedly second the advice to avoid “the perfect church”.

  3. TREY MORGAN says:

    Merry – welcome. Glad to have you stopping by. Feel free to comment if you want.

    I’m sorry about the frustration in your ministry right now. Sometimes ministry can be tough, especially when everyone looks to you are being perfect. Ministers and their families live in “fish bowls” where everyone else can see what they are doing so that adds stress and frustration. It’s not easy to let your guard down.

    For too long ministers, elders and youth ministers were held up as “perfect examples” for members to see, thankfully I see a change coming where ministers can admit faults and frustrations too without feeling like it will get them fired. I had a friend recently that told me it’s not my job to be on a cross as a perfect sacrifice … Jesus was the only perfect one and I shouldn’t have to pretend to be perfect too. I liked her wisdom.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    Blessings

  4. Anonymous says:

    good stuff trey,
    glad to have you back and “regular”

    brian

  5. Merry says:

    Trey – you are definitely right about past expectations of being a perfect example.

    While this is personally affecting my family, I think, I know, it would be much easier to deal with if it wasn’t hindering the congregation overall also.

    Leadership meetings are full of discussion about why attendance is down, why involvement is down, why visitors don’t come back, etc. When the prevailing attitude portrayed by the leadership is that this is where you come when you have it all together, people are turned off. They’re not just turned off of this congregation – they’re tuning out to Jesus Himself b/c so much focus has been put on the outward appearances instead of encouraging people to get to know the Savior and allow that knowledge to change every aspect of our lives.

  6. paul says:

    My heart cries out for that kind of community. I am in a new part of the country (for me) and still looking for that “church home” where I am accepted and loved in spite of myself. I am finding pockets of love and acceptance within churches. I pray that everyone may find it. God be praised for his followers who love like he loves us!

    Thanks for the post!

  7. The Preacher's Household: says:

    I wonder if the churches you are describing know that they are that kind of church. Sometimes it is much more obvious to be an outsider looking in than an insider not even looking. Kind of hard to change if you don’t know that there is a need.
    Kathy

  8. The Preacher's Household: says:

    Glad to hear you are “regular” again. I am still working on that status.
    t Giggle

  9. James says:

    t-gigler, tmi

    Trey, this is quite a challenge. I appreciate the honesty that many want to communicate we’re “perfect” we have arrived. You and I know it aint true.

  10. Royce Ogle says:

    Jesus’ most staunch opposition was “religeous” people. The same is true in 2007. Those who think they are the only ones “right” or that their congregation is “perfect” are also the ones who believe that by putting in a good performance they can gain favor with God.

    In some of those legalistic churches I am convinced that “imposters” are more likely the result than “disciples”.

    Grace to you,
    Royce Ogle

  11. Philip Murphy says:

    Trey,

    Do you mind if I use some of these bullet points in our introductory church pamphlet?

    Great stuff. This applies not only to CoC members, but also people in our public who are searching for God.

    By the way, my grandfather is from Childress and wrote a book on Childress history if you’d like to read it some time.

  12. TREY MORGAN says:

    Paul – I think God has our hearts programed to desire that kind of community. Blessings in your search.

    James and Kathy – both you guys make good points. Are you guys comparing notes? I like the giggler :)

    Royce – Thanks for sharing. You always have so much wisdom to add. Once again your point is right on target.

    Philip- Welcome. Glad you stopped by. Feel free to use anything…anytime. Would love to hear more about the things your dad wrote.

  13. TREY MORGAN says:

    Merry … My heart goes out to you in your struggles. Please hang in there in prayer, keep your faith in Jesus and find a friend you can trust to share your feelings and frustrations with. I think there needs to be a “preacher’s wives” support group somewhere in this world. :)

  14. Greg says:

    I enjoy your writing very much. And, like Paul (above comment), I’m in a very new place for me and will be shortly seeking a new community of faith. After having preached in churches of Christ for 30 years, I’m not at all sure we’ll end up in another coC, but your blog today sort of reverberates in this ex-preacher’s heart.

  15. NB says:

    Trey – Great Advice! Glad you’re back!

    Merry – Glad you are working to end the “perfect church syndrome”. It definitely keeps a lot of people away.

    Casting Crowns has a song called “Stained Glass Masquerade” that speaks to this.

    (I just brought my first Casting Crowns CD (Lifesong) a few weeks ago after I heard some of the songs while lurking over at John Dobbs’ blog. Other excellent songs on this CD: Does Anybody Hear Her? and Love Them Like Jesus.)

  16. Bob Bliss says:

    Wow, avoid the “perfect church?” I thought everyone was looking for the “perfect church.” So what are we going to do if we can’t go to the “perfect church?” :-)

  17. TREY MORGAN says:

    Bob … you could start the perfect church :)

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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