Fall is an exciting season around University of Mobile. The campus is buzzing with activity as students return (or arrive for the first time) to their dorms, classes, and activities. In the flurry of activity, we can easily forget to find a church home in which we may grow while we are away from home. It is a good thing to experience friendship on the university campus, but the true home of fellowship for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is his church.
As you settle into your new home, here are five things to consider when finding a church.
1) A Commitment to Biblical Teaching
The teaching of God’s word and the preaching of the gospel are paramount for our growth and maturity in the faith. When we gather together as believers, we celebrate God’s work in our lives and in the world. Good biblical teaching, shaped by scripture, continually reminds us of the gospel. And we need reminding because, in the midst of our busy lives and the opposition of sin, we are so prone to forget.
Biblical teaching reminds us that Christ lived, died, and was resurrected, according to the scriptures. It reminds us that we are saved through God’s grace by faith alone in Christ alone. It reminds us that we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit to live a life in step with God. It reminds us that we gather to be sent into the world with this message.
Find a church where the teaching and preaching continually highlight the power of the gospel and the glory of God.
2) A Culture that Upholds Discipleship
The last command that the Lord Jesus gave his disciples was to duplicate themselves through evangelism and discipleship. So, one of the most important functions of a church is to be a fellowship of people, not a building or set of social activities, where disciples are discipling. Sometimes, we get lost in the crowd on Sunday mornings, regardless of the number of people who gather. A good church will oppose isolation; the people will do all they can to ensure that you are not merely a face on Sunday mornings.
Find a church with a culture that upholds discipleship, one where the people meet throughout the week to confess sin, bear one another’s burdens, study scripture, encourage, pray, and hold one another accountable.
3) A Passion for Mission
“Go.” With that simple command, the Lord Jesus gave his disciples an incredible task. We are called to go into all nations, to all people groups, among all tribes, to proclaim the gospel in word and deed. That is the ultimate mission of the church-to go. To put it frankly, if you attend a church that has no passion for mission, then you are not attending a church, at least not in the biblical sense. We are called to be Great Commission people who love the nations like God loves the nations.
Find a church that goes-and supports people who go-into their surrounding neighborhoods, to economically and spiritually impoverished places, across the country, and into the nations of the world.
4) A Congregation That’s Different
Our years at university are a unique season of life. It is a time to stretch our wings, explore new things, and discern where the Lord is calling us to serve him, whether it’s in business, healthcare, education, politics, ministry, technology, the arts, or on the mission field. Those years are also a time to learn more about the body of Christ. So, perhaps it’s time to branch out!
Were you raised in a church with high liturgy? Try one with guitars and coffee. Have you attended a church that’s large and trendy? Try one that is small and rural. Have you gone to a church where the people are just like you? Find one where you are different.
The people of God are everywhere. Take this time to get to know your siblings-in-Christ in places that will challenge your old assumptions and broaden your understanding of the kingdom of God.
5) A Church Where God Wants You
Above all, go to a church where God is calling you. There are plenty of bad reasons to go to a church: the worship is trendy, the preaching is attractive, a guy or gal that you’re interested in attends, the programs are fun, you can get lost in the crowd, it’s chic, it’s liturgical, etc. There are also plenty of good reasons to go to a church that, if they become your primary reason, can become bad reasons. Why? Because regardless of whether your reasons are good or bad, if they are your reasons, then they are selfish reasons.
Don’t go to a church where you want to go; instead, go where God wants you to go. Church is not about us-it’s about worshiping the Lord Jesus as a community through the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father’s name. God has a purpose for each member of a church, who act like members of a body.
Every person in the church is there for a purpose. Like the different parts of a body, we all have a role to play in being the hands and feet of Christ. God gives us different gifts and desires that we would use them in the church. How odd is a body made of only hands or feet? And how odd is a where everyone has the same giftings? If God is calling you to a specific church, then he has a particular reason for you being there.
Pray. Find a good church. Plug in. Live on mission for Jesus.