As a pastor, I meet a lot of people who are looking for a church. One of the most helpful questions I can ask is, “What are you looking for in a church?”
In one sense, I hate this question because of the way it can reinforce our American consumer mindset. At the same time, it gets right to the point. They are looking for something.
Then there is the other side of the spectrum: people who leave a church. It is basically the back-door answer to the front-door question, “What were you unhappy about in this church?”
What I have found is that most people do not filter what they looking for in a church through the Bible as much as through their previous experiences or personal ideals.
Some of the most common things that I’ve seen in the last 10 years of pastoral ministry include the following:
Besties: People are looking for other people that they have a lot of common with.
Youth Ministry: People are looking for the church to provide a Christian network of friends for their kids.
Children’s Programs: People often look for the church to be the catalyst for family discipleship.
Mercy Ministry: Some people want to be a part of a ministry to meet the physical needs of the community.
Music: People look for a musical experience during the singing time of service.
But what if none of these things were actually the church’s job? What if we are expecting far too much and far too little from the church?
The church’s job is to preach, teach and apply the Bible. We are to be faithful in preaching, discipleship, evangelism and service.
There are not directives in the Bible for various programs for children or certain types of music. None of these things are bad; however, we should be careful to place the same level of emphasis on these things as the Scriptures.
Consider also the pursuit of good friends at church.