099 – Finding a Good Church (and a special announcement) [Podcast]

A listener question and a hiatus

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (99) I’m finishing a multi-episode series answering questions from a survey I did a few months back with my subscriber list.

Announcement

I’m also announcing that, due to upcoming travel that will have me out of pocket (much of it out of country) for the better part of 6 weeks AND due to a case of overwhelm (my fault for saying yes too often), I’m going to go on podcast hiatus until June 2017.

But don’t bail on me! There will still be a podcast each week, just not new episodes.  I will be reprising some of my earlier content that I think bears repeating.  For some of the newer members of our community, the content may actually be fresh.  For others, maybe you will hear something you didn’t hear the first time around.

During the break, I won’t be ignoring the podcast.   I’ll be recording interviews that will add a new element to the podcast format, bring in new voices, and add increasing value for churches and leaders.

One final note on the schedule: Since the next episode will be the 100th episode, I want to celebrate that milestone with fresh content.  Therefore the hiatus reprise episodes that will begin next week will be episode 99A and following.  Each new episode will release on Friday morning (unless I somehow mess up the auto scheduling while traveling).

Now to the Listener Question

Finding a good church was the survey response by one listener.  Since there was no more detail than that, I don’t know whether this individual is frustrated with a current church or is wanting some tips about finding a church home when either moving into a new community or returning to church life after an extended absence.  I’m going to address it from both standpoints, but I also want pastors and church leaders to consider how this applies to how you respond to unfamiliar faces at your church.

Frustrated

For those frustrated with a current church, I want to point you to a couple of previous episodes where I answered listener questions.

Episode 006 – What can one person do? Teresa asked for, “Practical tips on what one person can do to help realign their church with the Biblical ideal…or how one person can make a difference.”

Episode 014 – How do you stay with a church when it changes? Carmen asked, “How do you stay with a church when it changes?  How do you stay loyal?”

In addition to the answers contained in those two episodes, I would offer the following to the frustrated:

  • There is no perfect church.  Say it out loud with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH.
  • Be cautious and gracious in any criticism you offer.
  • The church does not exist to make you happy or to meet your needs, but to share your journey, help you grow in Christ-likeness, and help you discover your unique contribution to the work of the Kingdom of God.
  • Examine yourself and see if you may be projecting onto the church a frustration that is really internal.

 

Seeking

To those who are seeking a church home either because you are in a new community, you are new to faith, or you are ready to come back to church after an extended absence, I offer the following:

  • There is no perfect church.  Say it out loud with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH.
  • Visit a church enough times and observe enough variety of activities and ministries to get a true picture of who they are.  If you attend only the Sunday morning worship service, you will not learn much about the church.  Sit in on a Sunday School class (or whatever they call it).  If they have midweek activities, check them out.  Let your kids experience activities related to them.  Spend several weeks in a row with a church before you decide to either engage more deeply or move on to repeat the search with another church.
  • Pay attention to how they treat you as a guest. Were they helpful in answering your questions?  Did you feel welcome?  Did you feel like you had a target on your back?
  • Pay attention to how they treat each other.  Do they seem to enjoy being together?  Do they seem to have genuine concern for one another?
  • Pay attention to how they pray.  Are their prayers limited to praying for the sick or simply praying that God would bless their gathering?  Are they praying for their community and for the world? Is prayer a central part of everything they do?
  • Pay attention to how they engage with the Bible.  Is the Bible central to their worship and small groups?  Are the sermons built around Biblical texts?  Do they give any indication that they doubt the truth or reliability of the Bible?
  • Pay attention to how the members talk about their church.  Are they talking about how God is at work?  Are they talking about ministries?  Do they speak positively about their own experiences?  Do they speak positively about their fellow members?
  • Pay attention to how they talk about other churches in the community?  Do they seem to be in competition?  Are they critical of other churches and other pastors?  Do they have a Kingdom mindset that celebrates the work of God anywhere?
  • Pay attention to how people in the community talk about the church.  Do those who are not members have any impression of the church at all?  Do nonmembers speak positively about the church’s presence in and impact on the community?
  • Can you see yourself not simply attending this church, but serving Jesus alongside this group of people?
  • Do you have a sense that God may be directing you here?
  • Repeat this with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH, BUT GOD WANTS ME TO BE A PART OF ONE THAT IS MOVING FORWARD WITH HIM.

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
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To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, argumentative, off-topic, or just plain unhelpful.