“Deciding on a Church: What Really Matters”

by Linsey Driskill

With churches hovering every corner, how do we decide which to attend? While many around the world are forced to seek Jesus in secret, I am grateful we even have possibilities. But we are still left with the decision of which church to attend.

After an unforgettable two years in Colorado, my family moved back to Virginia. We thought about returning to our tiny church, but we hoped for one with more people and programs so the kids would have more opportunities. That deceptive word, “more”, led the search.

We visited seven churches throughout the year, our children asking each time if this was “the one.” Our kids quickly grew tired of church hopping, and so did we.

Until we finally decided on a church. It had more programs and opportunities than I could imagine, with endless people to meet. I was relieved, for a moment. Six months later, an unsettled feeling arose within me.

I had volunteered in the large church, but we hadn’t met a true community of friends there. One of the families we connected well with lived too far to regularly get together. The church had every program possible, a seasoned band, engaging sermons, a massive number of people, and most everything I thought I was looking for.

One day, my husband and I realized something was missing: community for ourselves and our kids. That gaping hole was the unsettled feeling that had bothered me.

 

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Jesus valued community and sent his disciples out together. Mark 6:7 tells us that, “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two.”

Even though Jesus retreated alone at times, he also spent a lot of time with people, in community. It was important to him. I wonder if Jesus sent his followers out in twos to stay strong? To encourage one another? For companionship and to avoid loneliness?

Mother Teresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

We were made for community. We were made to walk together. Not to brush shoulders and simple greet each other on Sunday, but to walk together. To connect with each other.

In Luke 17:21, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” The church is not a building. It’s a community of people. I had to learn the roundabout way that what mattered most wasn’t more programs and people, but deep friendships and community.

We decided to return to our small church, their arms open wide welcoming us back. It was renewing to know and be known. After service one day, my daughter said, “Mom, all our friends are here!” I think the answer to finding a church was far simpler than I had made it.

Are you in the middle of searching for a church to attend? If your beliefs line up with the church and over time you can build community there, then look no further.

Are you lonely where you are and longing for more? If after getting involved, you still feel like a visitor, it might be time to look elsewhere.

But remember that, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” (Acts 17:24) The Lord is far beyond the limited spaces we create to seek him.

Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. (MT 20:28) Let’s not look for a church to be served, but to find community and serve one another.

Being with friends and seeking Jesus together is where “true life” is found. It’s where true church is found. 

Written by Linsey Driskill