What to Look for in a Church?!


This following is from a website called davidfoster.tv. There are also comments on these points at www.alittleleaven.com and www.slideoflaodicea.com. I thought it would be fun to join the fray and add my two cents:

Mr. Foster wrote:

If I were looking for a church to attend in the morning, here is what I’d look for:

  1. When I enter do I hear laughter?
  2. Are people greeting me as a job or a joy?
  3. Does the place look like they were expecting me?
  4. Are people buzzing as they greet each other?
  5. Is there spirited music playing as people gather?
  6. Does the music move me?
  7. Do the people on stage look real and engaged?
  8. Are the announcements short, strategic, and to the point?
  9. Is there a printed outline with Scripture already printed on it?
  10. Does the pastor smile?
  11. Does the message title promise a relevant topic I am interested in?
  12. Does the pastor speak with humility and authority?
  13. Do I feel the presence of God?
  14. Are people listening and engaged?
  15. Is the service no more than 71 minutes?
  16. Does it pass by fast?

Did you notice that God is not mentioned until number 13? Others have referred to this as the most ‘self-centered’ me message ever. What does 71 minutes have to do with anything? Concerning number 11, if the message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t it necessarily relevant topic that we should be interested in? In other words, it should be Scripture that is preached, theologically, not a relevant topic. ‘Relevant-ism’ is overused word and rather meaningless insofar as the cross is concerned. It’s a catch word by which people nowadays determine who is worth and not worth listening to. Too many, in an effort to be relevant, have misused, abused of disused God’s Word (See R Warren among others). And laughter? Yes, I agree we need a theology of laughter in the church. If a person is on stage (7), how can they look anything but real? Who cares if the music (6) moves me as long as it glorifies God? Who cares if the pastor smiles? Maybe the pastor is having a bad day and cannot smile. Maybe his message concerning sin, judgement and the call to repentance from sin is no laughing matter.

I could go on an on, but I’d rather say this concerning what should be looked for a in church. First, are there people? If there are no people, there’s probably no church. Second, since (I assume he is talking about a worship gathering) it is a worship time, is there reverence, humility, and reading of Scripture? Third, does that Preacher (I assume that there are more than one pastor, so I’m guessing there is a preacher) preach a message from Scripture? Does he carefully exegete his passage and speak under the authority of God and in the power of the Spirit? Fourth, are announcements avoided because they are delivered in other ways so as not to detract from the worship of God? Fifth, is there prayer? How much time during worship is devoted to simply praying to God? Sixth, is there a public reading of Scripture? Seventh, are the children, while full of joy, respectful during times of worship and silence? Are the adults? Eighth, is the Lord’s Supper being offered, publically, to all believers? Ninth, is there a time of silent reflection and meditation? Not all worship is loud and obnoxious: It can also be quiet and reflective. Tenth, are visitors welcomed and greeted in the Name of the Lord? Eleventh, is there singing of joyful hymns and choruses to the Name of the Lord? Twelfth, is the Gospel clearly, plainly explained? Thirteenth, is there an invitation offered to all the Lord would call? Fourteenth, is the cross of Jesus visible, proclaimed, and lived by those who are already claiming Christ? Fifteenth, is Christ, and Christ alone, proclaimed, preached, and revealed to the people? Sixteenth, do the people look like they are expecting the Lord Jesus to show up at any minute? I should think that would be paramount to expecting any human being to show up. Who, after all, is the worship for: Me or God?

Those are some things I think folks, Christian or not, ought to look for when entering a church building to worship the Almighty King and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s a blurb about a book Foster wrote:

“Filled with firsthand discoveries that often put Foster at odds with his peers, this book exposes myths and half-truths found in organized religion today. Foster boasts that “God loves you as you are, not as you ought to be,” and shows an exciting Christian life does not have to be an oxymoron. He dares Christians to be what they were made to be – renegades for God.”

My question is this: If God does indeed love us just as we are and not as we ought to be, then why does God work so hard at changing us (a process called sanctification, See John 17) and recreating us in the image of Christ (Colossians 3:9-11), calling us to repentance, and in general telling us that our previous lives were empty, shallow, hopeless, sinful, and meaningless?

Christianity is not about ‘excitement’ even if there are times when life happens to be rather joyful. There is more to Christian joy than fleeting sexual arousal. There is a deeper sense of joy that comes from being made free and complete in Christ. There’s more to say about this later.


2 thoughts on “What to Look for in a Church?!

  1. Watch out, you’re going to be accused of being jealous! You seem like someone who just doesn’t like it when churches leave God out of the growth strategy!

    I like your revision of the list, though: it’s what we should all be striving for!

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