Searching for a New Church Home
Since we have moved to Arkansas Carmi and I are searching for a new church home. We knew it might be a challenge. Why/ because we have been Christians for decades and so know what we are looking for and what we are not looking for, and we are picky. Why are we picky? Because if we make a church home, we want to be fully devoted to the church. We will be giving our tithes, time, and energy to the church. Maybe not like we have done in the past, but more than many who attend church. Church attendance and being comitted to a church is important to us.
Carmi and I will do fine if we don’t have a church home. We are sold out followers of Christ and we are not going to backslide if we do not find a church home. There are plenty of good churches in the area to visit and we will serve and honor God rather at church or not. But we believe it is critical to get planted into a church. It keeps us spiritually feed, brings accountability, gives an opportunity to be used in our giftings, brings healthy fellowship, and as Christians we should not forsake the assembling together. Hebrews 10:25. We take God’s commands serious.
I am sharing our journey publicly for a few reasons:
- For Others-I am sure are on the same journey. May they learn from our journey.
- So members of churches will look at their own church and say, “How could we make improvements in our church.”
- To let people know none of us will find a perfect church to call home. Homes are imperfect because they are made up of broken people, just like churches, like you and me.
- Just because we don’t attend a certain church does not mean it is a bad church, just might not meet our preferences.
What We are Looking For
Anointed, Spirit-Filled Worship: Worship where there is life. A church where it is obvious that the congregation loves to worship God and not just sing songs. Both of us can worship rather it is hymns or contemporary music, but much of the time churches that focus on hymns and avoid contemporary songs, seem to not have an enthusiasm about worship. It is as if worship is something you do in church, but is secondary. We believe that worshiping God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength in song is just as important as the hearing of the Word. All the ceremonies in the Old Testament were forms of worship and it certainly was very important to God. A WORD person who does not see the worshiping of God is out of balance. Something is not right.
(BTW I believe true worshi is more than what taked place on Sunday.)
We want worship where God’s Spirit has control and determines what takes place in worship, not a formula, the flesh, or two songs and we are done. But we do not want performances by entertainers. We do not need entertained!
Anointed Meat Filled Preaching: Carmi and I are not babes in the Lord, We do not want milk toast preaching. We want preaching that brings conviction in our life. Preaching that challenges us to grow in Christ. We want some ‘ouch’ moments. We also want a preacher that is on fire for the Word of God-they preach with conviction. Yes some of it is style. We understand that. We can accept different styles, but it needs to be clear that the Spirit is working through the pastor.
It needs to be clear the oastor is not ashamed of the gospel or the Word of God.
Solid Sunday School Teaching: This is a tough one for me. Without sounding like I am bragging I am a very good Bible teacher. Wanting someone who teaches well.
Honesty, Openness, Vulnerability: We are looking for a church, a pastor, that is real. No fake Christianity. No salesman Christianity. No ‘its all good’ Christianity. We will avoid churches where it seems the people are wearing masks, especially the pastor.
Outreach: We must be with a church that has some form of outreach taking place. A church that is reaching the community. A church that is not just inward focused. We understand that a church can be reaching the community and yet be small and limited in what it can do.
Size: Size is overall not a factor to us. Large churches do not mean good churches. Small churches do not mean bad churches. But if a church is small we want to know that it is not because they are not preaching the Word, because they are not doing outreach, because they are legalistic. If a church is large we want to be assured it is not because they are compromising the Word.
Fellowship: Now this is a different one for us. In the past we were not focused on how ‘friendly’ the church was or how many activities they had going on for the saints. We have had the opinion that we are strong Christians and we do not need much fellowship in regards to people loving on us. BUT we have become somewhat spoiled. We have experienced some great interacting with people from various churches. Felt very welcomed by the people.
(Fellowship was importamt to meas a pastor in regards for the sake of those who attended andvusited our church.)
Maturity: The church overall needs to be made up of mature healthy Christians and yet has the lost, broken, hurting attending also.
Love and acceptance: There has to be a strong sense of the love of Christ and that people are accepted for where they are at in their life. (Not saying accept the sin, but accept the person.)
Distance: We would like to attend a church that is closer to our home.
Be Used: We want to be at a church that recognizes our gifts, talents, and callings. We currently do not feel called to get deep into ministry but we at the same time do not want to abandon what God has given us.
What We Have Found
No perfect church. Duh. No church will meet all of the above even though we honestly believe every church should be like the above. But as much as we have always wanted the above, even our own church in Seattle did not meet all of the above. We understand this. We understand some of what we want is just preferences.
Worship: It is much harder than we thought it would be to find a church that has anointed, spirit-filled worship. Worship is lacking in this area. Yes some churches have choirs, some have a worship team (most are lacking in musicians, intentionally or unintentionally) but overall we are wanting a more lively worship. This is too much of a reminder of our own church in Seattle. We were hoping after 7 years at our church we would find a church with more energetic worship. (Part of the problem for us is we both have experience in churches that had amazing, powerful, anointed worship. It is hard to find a duplicate, even in big Seattle it was hard.)
We have found one church that at least has a desire for the worship we are looking for. (After attending it a second time it looks like the worship may be what we are looking for.)
Preaching: Some churches are clearly focusing their Sunday mornings towards the lost or newer Christians. Nothing wrong with that. But that means mostly milk, not meat. This is not to say we have not heard very good sermons-we have. But so far we have only found one ‘meat’ preaching church.
We are not looking for a yelling, hell fire, running around the pew preacher. But we are finding it hard to find a preacher that preaches with great passion in a way that grabs us. But again we certainly have heard good sermons that speak to us. The Holy Spirir speaks through any style of preaching. We have not heard any bad sermons. Our meat might have to come from Sunday School.
Sunday School Teaching: We have found two churches that have good Bible Study teachings. One of the churches has a great Bible teacher. Love him. He has great insights. We have also found churches that have weak Bible studies.
Being Real: Overall it seems that the churches have people who are real. All of the pastors seem to be open overall. But so far there has only been one church where Carmi and I feel we can truly connect with the pastor. Possibly one other pastor. So far only one pastor has reached out to us beyond church time.
We absolutely will not make a church our home church if it appears the pastor is wearing a mask, so far have not seen that.
Outreach: There is one church that is doing amazing things reaching out to the community. We are very impressed and it really draws us since I have a big heart for outreach into the community. There is another church that is not doing as much but they are working with other organizations that are doing great things and they strongly support missions. Ine church seems to be more inward focused.
Size: Really immaterial if other desires are met as long as not small because legalistic.
Fellowship: Most of the churches have good fellowship, but one church that has some things we like, seems to be lacking in this area. The people were not as friendly as the other churches. With us as a visitor we don’t need it, but we think if this is our home church it is a problem. It means other visitors will not feel welcomed, that could be a stumbling for them. Thus us shy people would have to make sure we are part of the greeting committee to bring a better atmosphere. Honestly, after experiencing some great fellowship it is harder than we thought to accept something less.
Maturity: Most of the churches seem to have some people who are very mature in the Lord.
Love: More obvious in some churches than others. I will say overall we have meet some very loving people. Was uncomfortable with one church where it seemed there was a rule on how women should dress, felt legalistic.
Distance: We may have to accept we will need to drive further to get what we are looking for in a church. But Carmi is more concerned about distance than me.
Be Used: At one church someone keeps telling us we are needed, but they are just a member of the church, not someone in leadership. We see where we can be used but no one is pursuing us, which is understandable at this time and is fine with us. Our identity is in Christ, not in what we do.
No decision made. We are processing in what we need to compromise in.(Too many times Christuans who are sold out see the word comprmose as something bad. Compromise regarding the Word is bad, but compromising in references is reality.) But we are getting closer to a decision. We would like our decision to be we attend various churches at different times and not say no to any of them. That way no one is offended and we get what we want in a variety of different ways. But that is not an option. We must make a decision on a home church.
Since we have moved here to Greers Ferry I have felt that we will most likely not end up at a church close by even if there are things we like abut the church. God knows what we cannot compromise on and what we can compromise on. Close distance cannot be a determining factor at the end of the day. Fellowship as good as it feels cannot be a determining factor at the end of the day.
P.S. As of today we are closer to making a decision, but we are not in a hurry to make a decision.
P.S.S. I should mention again that we have not gone to any ‘bad’ churches. We could ultimately attend on a regular basis any of the churches we have been visiting. God will bless us wherever we make home.
Our own church in Seattle lacked much but I know many people whose lives were changed. I know our church had some of the most loving and accepting people you could imagine. I know our church made a difference in the community.
I know that whenever any group of followers of Christ meet together God is working. So at the end of the day it is a matter WHERE GOD WANTS US, not where we want to be.