I have recently encountered an atheist and was presented with a question that registered with me as I had heard it before on numerous occasions.
She asked: “Why should I choose YOUR church?”
She had been looking at different churches and faiths … she had visited our church service and had encountered and spoken to a number of our members.
What strikes me in this conversation is the fact that most of us would be inclined to fall for this question. However doing so, will not promote the Gospel.
While I love church and while I will always encourage people to come to church, the church I am part of, this was not the actual question at stake. And the reasons I would give for joining church would not have been a good answer to her question either.
Answering to this question means, we allow the unwritten implications of the statement. Here are some of the implied assumptions that possibly lead to such a question:
- There are many different Christian churches and they compete with one another.
- What they have to offer has to enrich my life and make it better.
- Finding a church is like finding a fitness studio – you choose the one that best fits your desires and expectations.
- For Christians, it’s all about church.
- It is OUR church, not Christs.
The fact however is: IT IS NOT ABOUT FINDING A CHURCH! It is about discovering GOD.
If we allow people to believe they do this god-thing for their own benefit and what they can get from it, we allow a needs-based gospel. The problem with that is this: People come to Christ because of need; and when the needs are met, they have no need for Him any longer.
That makes finding a church quite a different thing from finding a fitness studio! You find God and then you follow His lead!
The sad truth in the implications however is: churches are in a ‘beauty’ contest. We have reduced church to being in competition with what the world offers and with what other churches offer.
That was never what church was meant to be.
The word ‘ecclesia’ translates to our current word ‘church’ in modern language. However a literal translation would much rather be ‘called out ones’. Church thus is a gathering of those who have heard the call of God and responded to if with a ‘yes’.
That makes church a living organism. Because we have different views and ways of worshiping God, of formatting a service etc, we have different denominations. However all people who are disciples of Jesus, who follow His lead (no matter in which church they find themselves) form part of the worldwide church of Christ, called the bride of Christ.
Instead of competing with one another (competitiveness is an unbiblical concept) they should exhort and encourage one another.
That would make the search for a church the following:
- A listening to Gods’ voice – where does He want you.
- A fellowship of believers where you find spiritual nourishment.
- A fellowship you become part of and where you find leadership you submit to.
So in essence “church is a community engaged in disciplines that make following the master/teacher possible and sustainable.”
So the next time you are asked the question at hand, let us preach the Gospel.
May you have a blessed week!