I am a churchman. By that I mean I don’t just attend a church, lead a church, I believe in the church; not as an organization or an institution, but more as a movement, a gathering of like-minded men and women looking not only for the answers to their life, but seeking to understand God and how His world works.
I believe in the American church. I’ve seen her go through at least three significant movements in my lifetime. And as I’ve studied them as a student, I’ve come face-to-face with the truth of the old adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a church, and you should be, if you’re in a church that’s dead and stale and doesn’t believe anything, you should get out today, regardless of whose feelings it hurts. So here are the five things I just simply couldn’t abide in the church I commit to:
- I can’t commit to a program-driven church. I was raised in a denomination known for its programs. The mathematical equation was always in play. If you want to have 10 people in Sunday School, have one teacher. If you want to have 20, have 2. If you want to have a hundred, have ten classes. Maybe that worked, but it certainly doesn’t work today. People are not looking for a program to be plugged into.
- I can’t commit to a committee-centric church. There are churches in which the first thing they want to do is give you a job, put you on a committee. Someone said, “a camel is a horse put together by a committee.” You get the point. Committees, in my opinion, are worthless. Yeah, I said it – worthless.
- I can’t commit to a traditional church. I don’t mean that traditions are bad. As a matter of fact, I believe that traditions are good things. Traditionalism is being stuck in the past while living in the present. We do the things we do because grandma or grandpa or our favorite pastor did or didn’t do them. Life’s too short to waste it in a stuck church.
- I can’t commit to a church that doesn’t have a high view of Scriptures and the proper view of Jesus. I can tolerate a lot of things; differences on whether we should drink or not drink alcoholic beverages, differences on whether we baptize by sprinkling or immersion, or whether to use real wine or grape juice, whether women can be pastors or not. But what I can’t abide is an undercutting of the sacred Scriptures as the total, absolute foundation on which we base all of our teachings. I also couldn’t compromise on the full deity of Jesus Christ; that He is indeed the way, the truth, and the life.
- I can’t commit to a church that wears suits and takes itself too seriously. We’d all like to believe that our church is the best church in town, or at least an important church that the community couldn’t do with out. We are very serious about our place in society. I’ve just realized that the only unchangeable certainty is that God will accomplish His purposes. I see them as three: redemption, reconciliation, and ultimate restoration.
So for me, I wear jeans to church. I have for 20 years, not because I think it’s cool, just because it fits me. There are other places where suits on people fit. Those are the kinds of churches you might need to go to if jeans and t-shirts offend you. But for me, bottom line, I think we need to gather in joy, not in a solemn recounting on the fall.
Here is a bonus point. I couldn’t commit to a church where I didn’t hear constant laughter; not only in the hallways and the parking lots, but in the main room, the room we love to call “the sanctuary.” God is a God of generosity, creativity, joy. He is a happy God Who has planned a future beyond anything we can imagine.
Find yourself a great church you can commit to, and see the amazing things God will do.