What do you look for when you look for a church that is a good fit for you? Maybe it’s the music? Maybe it’s the preaching? Maybe it’s the children’s ministry?
A quick scan through Google reviews of churches will give you a sense of how most people judge churches.
Here is a sampling of real reviews from churches around our city:
· I have two small boys ages 3 and 6 who can’t get ready fast enough to go to church on Sundays because of the attention they place on kids. From the pastor to the coffee shop, everything rates 5 stars!!!
· The breakfast servers only greeted people they knew. It made me feel awkward at first. 1 star.
· The full ultimate experience: great for the family, great for the kids. 5 stars.
· Can never get to talk to the pastor. Think it has gotten too big for the 1 on 1 time we used to get at the end or beginning of the service with the pastor. It is almost like trying to visit an actor. 2 stars.
· Child care exceptional. 5 stars.
· It was too commercial. It didn’t feel like a church. 2 stars.
· On Easter after waiting in line for over 2 hours with my 3 & 4 year old to do the Easter egg hunt they couldn’t participate. I’m waiting for a sincere apology from you guys and/or an opportunity to correct your mistake or I will be going to every news station in the state explaining how a disabled veteran and his 2 toddlers stood in line for over 2 hours just to be turned away. IF JESUS WAS ABLE TO GIVE FISH AND BREAD TO ALL THE MASSES, YOU SHOULD OF BEEN ABLE TO MAKE SURE ALL KIDS HAD EASTER EGGS. 1 star.
· They may have the best stage set up I’ve ever seen in my life. I absolutely love the light show and the humongous TV screens! If you’re looking for a church with great music and message this is the place to go! 5 stars.
· Everyone is friendly, the services are amazing, the band is outstanding, and the kids programs are unbelievable and the kids learn so much. 5 stars.
· Best women’s community. 5 stars.
· I didn’t get a very welcoming vibe. Neither did my husband. It just was not for us. 2 stars.
· Very nice gymnasium. 5 stars.
· I don’t feel that you can grow here at all hubby and I came because its close and we can walk or take the bus but it’s not for us. Very boring service, can’t get to know people, and if you need help they judge you and ask way too many questions. 1 star.
WELL TRAINED CONSUMERS
Whether positive or negative, these reviews demonstrate how well we have been trained as consumers of churches. We are connoisseurs of religion. Like a wine critic who judges the balance, depth, complexity, and finish of a vintage, we swirl our experience of a church in our glass and judge its balance of ministries, the depth of its teaching, the complexity of its offerings, and how it makes us feel at its finish.
We are consumers. Very well-trained consumers.
Jesus grieves the way we consume the church. He invites us to a better way, he invites us to be contributors, not consumers of the family of God.
When Paul writes to the church at Corinth, he corrects their misunderstanding that the spiritual gifts God has given them are for themselves. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good,” Paul says (1 Corinthians 12:7). In other words, God has given you gifting to bless the church. A couple paragraphs later, Paul says, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Your identity is entwined in your relationships with other Christians in the context of the local church.
There is a word of correction here for pastors and for Christians.
A WORD OF CORRECTION TO PASTORS
First a word of correction to church leaders: the church is not a platform for our gifts. The church is not our audience. They are not there merely to be taught and pumped up. All of the vision and direction from a church shouldn’t come from us. I’m not Moses, and you’re not Elijah. We are fellow members in the body of Christ.
And we are not the sole purveyors of ministry in the local church. We are tasked “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Let me ask you, are saints in your church doing “the work of the ministry?” Are saints in your church “building up the body of Christ”? Or have you reserved those tasks for yourself?
We as leaders are called to train up others. We are called to deploy the body in their gifting.
A WORD OF CORRECTION FOR CHRISTIANS
Christians, God saved you not just to be in relationship with him, but in relationship with his family. And he has given you spiritual gifts not for your own edification, but for the edification of others. If you are not serving in a church community, you are not walking in the fullness of who God created you to be.
One reviewer of a Tucson church, upset with their experience, said, “This is why I worship God at my home.” That isn’t an option for a follower of Jesus. It’s the equivalent of being adopted by a father, but refusing to move into his home and have a relationship with his kids. That’s not how adoption works.
Our first evaluation of a church shouldn’t be what the church offers us, whether that is the preaching, the worship, or the various ministries. Our first evaluation ought to be framed with a question: where is God calling me to serve these people? How can I use my gifts to honor Christ and build up my brothers and sisters?
You were made for more. You were designed by your Savior to be a contributor, not a consumer.
New Life’s Culture Statements:
6. Character outlasts charisma
7. Life is better together
8. Big church, small feel
9. Healthy churches multiply
www.thebeehive.live. Used by permission.