Last week I posted about When to Leave a Church.
In the post I said, “When people ignore fundamental differences long-term, a culture of coping develops” in churches.
I was asked a great question by a reader, “If someone decides to leave a church, how should one search for another church?” If it’s a given that the new church will share the same theology, then here are a few thoughts on finding a church.
Shopping verses Searching
I know a lot is said about churches catering towards Christian consumers, and I agree churches need to be more than “frequent worshipers” club.
But the formation of new relationships does take upfront kindness and some “customer service”.
Who would want to marry someone who promises deep commitment once you get past their initial persona of being unfriendly and judgmental? There is a place for consumer awareness in the church.
The best job is a place where you can believe in the company’s mission, services and culture.
Alignment of Purpose
It’s great to work at a place where you can partner with a company’s mission and the same should be true of the church you attend. When you belong to a church as a partner, you enjoy a high degree of alignment with the mission of the church.
A church’s mission determines how the church treats “outsiders”, invites people into salvation opportunities and works to include new comers. In short, mission determines community.
The greater your alignment with a church’s mission the more you will embrace how the church does community.
Promotion of Practices
When you work for a company where you believe in their services, then you endorse those services. You’re a “believer.”
It’s not a good idea to join a church where people routinely offer excuses for their “services” a.k.a. ministry forums. I was touring a church as a visitor last year where both a leader and a volunteer apologized for inadequacies in their children’s ministries. The apology didn’t ring of ownership, it felt like a disclaimer.
While it’s important for churches to be honest about what they do or don’t offer, when a church offers up-front apologies over their ministries it is usually a sign that the church is struggling to believe in their own “services.”
If you find it hard for people to promote a church’s ministries without apology, then chances are you will have a hard time too becoming a “believer.”
Beliefs about People
Culture has become a current buzz-word to describe the feel of the work environment, and in some cases corporate culture is becoming more of a distraction than a help.
The culture I’m referring to is not about office environments, it’s about the overall “atmosphere.”
Culture is the beliefs about people and their behavior that becomes the “common air” shared in an organization.
If you prefer to assume the best about people and respect a person’s choice to inform you of the worst, then you’re not going to fit with a culture that assumes the worst and does it’s best to question people’s choices.
One of the deepest assessments you can make is: Do you share the culture of a church?
Do you like the default attitudes expressed by church leaders regarding people and people’s behavior? If so, then you like breathing the “common air” of the church. If seeing how people are treated at a church makes you feel like you’re having an asthma attack, then you’re not a fit with the culture. Move on.
Join the Conversation: Agree or Disagree? What other elements are important when searching for a church?