Tomorrow you will be given the opportunity to attend church. Many of you have already found a strong community to which you are committed. But for some of you, you’re still on the hunt. You are looking for a place that’s worth getting up and going to all the trouble to get ready to go to.
Sometimes it helps to know the kind of churches that you never want to go to. Here are five actual, real churches that I have visited in Nashville that I would never go to again. And I hope you won’t either.
1. I will never go back to the church that exists for itself. So many churches just simply exist for their own members, their own comfort. They never seem to care about those who are far from God and yet close to the doors of their church that they could reach. They have a mission-blindness because they are so focused on self-preservation.
2. I will never go back to the church that resists change. It’s the church of Jesus Christ that understands what never changes and what ever-changes. The message of the gospel is timeless, but the methods with which it is delivered are and must be timely.
3. I will never go back to the church where everyone is not welcome. It’s hard to believe even in our day that there are churches that are prejudiced; prejudiced against race, mixed marriage, and a hundred other issues. The truth of the matter is I would never go to a church that just simply doesn’t exist for people. It’s been my contention the church doesn’t exist simply for Christians, it exists for everyone so that anyone and everyone should be welcome. But we all know that’s not true. One of the biggest sins churches commit is when they put up signs reading, “Everyone Welcome” when we all know they are not.
4. I will never go back to the church whose basis of authority is tolerance and inclusion. The basis for authority in any church are the Scriptures. God’s revealed word is the truth on which we are founded. The gospel is the story of redemption based on truth, justice, mercy, grace, and love. So I want to be part of the church whose foundation is not tolerance, but truth; because tolerance without truth is just sentimentalism. I want to be quick to say that I also want to be part of a church who speaks the truth in love; who doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear, but tells me what I need to hear in a way I can hear it.
5. I will never go back to the church that preaches a works salvation. So much of what you’ll hear tomorrow in churches across this land is based on a works salvation; a redemption by being better. How many sermons will we hear about being more like Paul or Peter, or John or Moses, or David or Joshua, or even like Jesus? The good news of the gospel is not that God came to make bad men better, but that He came to make dead men live.
Relationship with God through Jesus Christ is based totally on the work of Christ on the cross and through the Resurrection; not on the basis of my good works or my promise to be redeemed. Christianity is not a sin-management program. It is a life-transforming relationship that you enter in through Jesus Christ to the Redeemer and God of your life.
These are churches I would shy away from. If I were looking for a brand new church, I would simply turn these upside-down and make sure I go to a church tomorrow that is mission-minded, that receives people with joy no matter who they are or where they’ve come from; that proclaims the truth of the Sacred Scripture and elevates the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope for the world.