Mar 16, 2008

Church Hunting--The Prequel...

I wrote this blurb as part of my post a week ago, but decided it made it unnecessarily long. So here it is as a separate post...

Church is one of those things that, for some reason, the Cat Daddy and I pretty much have to do to feel like ourselves. I get fussy about saying "must" and "should" and such when it comes to God and his things. More often than not people turn perfectly healthy "shoulds" into some kind of point system where if they go to church, or [insert spiritual discipline here], or whatever, then they're on the "right track" or "right with God" or some quantifiable standard that God probably doesn't really care about. And/or they get all mixed up about the order of things and equate "church" with "God," and oh boy, you get into a whole other tangled mess when you can't distinguish between the two.

That said, there is the reality of cause and effect, and it tends to be that when Christians associate with other Christians there is a lot of encouragement and strength to give to each other...not to mention the healing and growth and all, that results from hanging around with people who are in the same place, or have been there and have wisdom to offer. Then there's the whole worship-thing...worshipping God is a good thing, and while you don't need to be in a church to do it, church does provide a set-aside time to deliberately focus on and meet with God. So that's good. So we go to church.

The hard part then, in my opinion, is finding a church that's a good fit. From my own Christian (Protestant?) perspective there are certain non-negotiables--a church has to believe in the Bible as a whole and not preach things that aren't in there (or if they do they should offer a disclaimer). Man's big-s-Sin, and needing forgiveness, Jesus dying on the cross and rising again, salvation by grace and not works, etc--all essential in a healthy Christian church.

Beyond that, there's a ton of room for personal tastes and whatnot. Dunk or sprinkle, frequency and methods of communion, service format, music and preaching style, overall church culture...the possibilities are endless. People, myself included, can get all bent out of shape about these finer points, so I do think it's a good idea to try to match yourself with folks who believe at least somewhat closely to what you do on at least some of these.

For example, my personal dealbreakers include snake handling, dress codes, and membership requirements. I have issues with dress codes--mainly a belief that they don't belong in church--so basically if there's any sort of dress code at all, I'm probably not going to stay because I couldn't submit and keep a happy heart about it. As for membership, it doesn't bother me, per se, but being somewhat of a transient-type, membership as a requirement for service and ministry just doesn't mesh with moving frequently. I'd be spending half my time in mandatory classes and trial periods. Yes, I do believe you should know and trust the people who are ministering in your church; I just don't believe sitting in a weekend class ensures such things. I wrote about this long ago, so I'm not getting into it now.

Snake handling...no way no how. Ever...

2 comments:

RichardB said...

Bottomline is that you suck, which is why you need Jesus.

Skerrib said...

So true. So true...