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Be Careful

Some key advice for you if you’re looking for a church:

1. Be careful if the church trumpets its Coffee more than the sermons. Don’t get me wrong- I like coffee. My Lovely Bride may have a serious coffee addiction problem with java (she could quit any time, though she doesn’t wish to). However, it should be a warning sign if coffee is touted.

There’s nothing wrong with a church having coffee. The preaching of the Word of God should be the attraction, not whether or not they offer Designer Coffee. That should take precedence over whether they serve Starbucks or Battery Acid posing as coffee.

2. Be careful if the Church name starts with the article “The”. For instance, “The Voyage”, “The Trek”, “The Exploration”…. I’m not sure that there are churches out there with those names, but there are certainly plenty of churches out there with names along those lines.

First, the journey is not more important than the Destination. The destination is pre-eminent, particularly when we’re talking about Eternity. You could have a wonderful, rich fascinating journey, but if your destination turns out to be Hell, you have a big problem.

3. Be careful if the church has a meaningless name that sounds like a generic subdivision. I’m broadly generalizing here, but what does a name like “WoodPond Church” or “MapleCreek” mean, or what does that church stand for? That doesn’t mean that you should reject it out of hand. I’m sure that there are plenty of It wouldn’t hurt, however, to cast a somewhat jaundiced eye to a place that seems to conceal for what it stands. Many of these churches are either formerly known as Baptist churches, or have spawned from a Baptist tradition. Apparently the Baptist name is toxic. I wonder, however, if in sawing off the Baptist name, are they dropping some of the other distinctives?

4. Run away if the church touts its sermons as “relevant”. I see a lot of church websites that tout their “relevant” sermons. As if the Gospel is somehow irrelevant to the world in which we live.

There is a disquieting trend among Evangelical pastors today, as they seem to lack confidence in the Scriptures. Instead of preaching the gospel, either they lack the confidence in the message of Gospel, or feel that such sermons wouldn’t draw the crowds. What’s more important in the scheme of things: a whimsical story about the pastor’s kid, or God’s Word?

If you can ignore this peculiar video attached to this sight, please read these remarks from Baptist21 about preaching the gospel. Moralism and Legalism seem to be two sides of the same coin. Both are not the Gospel, and indeed are a distraction from the Gospel. Legalism tells you what you can’t do, while Moralism seems to focus on what you must do. In each case the message of salvation by grace through faith alone becomes obscured.

It was a year ago that we found our new church home. Leaving our previous church, the only church I’ve ever attended, was nothing short of heartbreaking for us. We love the people there; We were active, and had many friends. The irony is that our previous church hadn’t gone in the direction with the name change or the coffee house- yet. Neither event would surprise us. We saw (My Bride well before I did) that the direction in which things were heading wasn’t profitable. Again, we love the people, the history, and the Pastor. The Pastor at our previous church is bright, well-spoken, and has a plan. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the plan includes a consistent, strong focus on the Bible.

Nevertheless, it was time to move. The most important aspect to us was to find a church where we would hear the Gospel. That the Pastor preached as if he had confidence in God’s Word.

Having never had to search for a church before, we tried to check out websites, and listened to sermons when available. We rejected some churches out of hand, particularly because of Reasons 1-4 above. However, we found a number of churches that featured excellent, Biblically-based preaching. In another ironic twist, the church where we ultimately called home didn’t even have a website, let alone online sermons. It did, however, have a pastor that believes strongly in expository preaching. We wanted to go to a church where not only our kids would hear the Gospel each week, but so would any friends that would come with us. Sadly, that wasn’t the case at our previous church.

If you’re looking for a church, please stay away from the fads, those churches that attempt to be hipper-than-thou, that try far too hard to be anti-church. Go for the preaching and teaching.

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