|(Photo courtesy of: google images)|
Choosing a church can be difficult, especially if you are new to a community. This is quite possibly one of the hardest parts of moving, unless you are moving because you got a job with a church, then you have no choice.
The reality is there are many different reasons we might find ourselves searching for a new church home. It may be because of some issues in the old church you were a part of, it might be because of a job change and you had to move, or the church you were in closed so you're looking to start fresh.
What ever the reason is, searching for a church is something we might have to experience at one point and time.
In the past, I have had some people ask me how to find a new church or find a good church and, to be honest, I would give them some advice that seemed alright, but I was never 100% sure I was right. So, I have come up with the CLEAR method of choosing a church, based on my opinion, but I think it works:
Check your motives: You will never find a perfect church. You will never find a church with perfect people. If you are looking for a new church because you were hurt by someone else, you felt unappreciated, your seat was taken, the breakfast is bad (I've heard this), or you're not getting something out of it, then your motives are wrong. If you were hurt, and attempted to reconcile, but the issue wasn't resolved, then maybe you need to move on. If the breakfast is bad, well, start cooking and make it better.
Listen to the message: Many times the people might be nice, the building might be clean, and the breakfast may taste great, but if the message being taught from the pulpit/stage doesn't correspond with the Gospel of Jesus, then you need to turn away quick! The message being shared must correlate with the Scriptures God has given us or we may fall into false teaching. We cannot follow false teachers no matter how good their sausage gravy might be in the morning (I can't get over this breakfast comment).
Examine the church: I do not mean walk around the church looking at the shrubbery to see if it has been maintained or deciding whether or not the paint is the right color. I mean, walk in the church and discover what they have happening in and out of their building. This is your opportunity to figure out where and how you can plug in to the church and be an active participant.
Allow God to work: Sometimes we fall for our emotions instead of listening to the Spirit. We walk in to the church and love the music and the way the chairs feel (yes, someone told me they left a church because the seats were uncomfortable). However, we need to seek God's wisdom in where we call "home". God will reveal where we need to be and how we need to get involved, but we need to get Him involved in the decision-making process. FYI: This would have been first, but that wouldn't spell CLEAR and would throw off my fun, acronym-making activity.
Relax: Don't feel like you have to rush your decision. It might take some time and possibly mean you bounce for a little while. Please do not use this as an excuse to hop from church to church, but use it as a way to calm down and really follow the ALLOW section. When we are able to relax and be still, that is when God can speak clearly.
This is not the acronym to end all acronyms, that is clear (see what I did there), but it can be a good guide to use. We need to remember that we can't walk into a church wondering what we are going to get out of it, but what we can put into it.
We need to find our home and community to join with. We need to make sure when we find our place, we use the gifts given to enhance the body we become a part of. I hope this is clear enough for you.