07 September, 2005

"Why Should I Want to Go to Your Church?"

This morning I received a phone call from a woman who was looking for a new church to attend. Circumstances were such that she needed to find a new church, and when she explained the situation, I agreed with her. I receive similar phone calls to this all the time, and she began to ask me the usual questions about our church such as:
What is the average attendance?
Is the service contemporary or traditional?
Does the church follow a liturgy?
Do you have anything to offer my kids?
Do you have an organ or a band or what?

But then she hit me with the bomb. She asked, “Why should I want to go to your church? What would make me pick your church over another?”

I was taken back a little, and knew I needed to be careful with my words, because I did not want to sound critical of another church.

I will not give you my response to her just yet.
I’d like to hear what others have to say about this. Of course I am looking for some responses from the people I pastor, but I’d like to hear from others out there too.
What would you say to someone asking you this question?


Shawn & Amber Karns said...

Our church will accept anybody. There's no qualifications to attend our church. We enjoy praising the God who created us. The Bible is our mainstay throughout the service, and we try to let ourselves be led by the Spirit in our worship.

Some of our current activities include:
Once a month we gather together with other churches in our community of various denominations to worship as one voice.
We have "family night" once a month on a Sunday Afternoon, where we gather together for food and fun and are encourage to bring friends and family.
Thursday nights we have Christian martial art classes (Yui-Itsu-Do) taught for anyone in the community.
Tuesday nights we have an excercise class (Walk-Away-the-Pounds).
Wednesday night is family night, with activities for our children and adults.
Beginning in October we will be starting a Childrens Church - Veggie Tales Village.
And our Pastor, along with the church body, have many other ideas we have yet to implement.

We need workers to come along side us and help us with our endeavors to reach the community for Christ. We are our Brother's Keeper.

We will be praying with you as you make your choice, that God will lead you to the church you should involved in.

Libby said...

The person who asked the question needs a church which teaches the Bible without adding to or taking from God's Word. A church which encourages its believers to study the Word for themselves and verify the teaches which occur at services. Truthfully, not all churches do this, but also truthfully, our church is not the only one which does (Thank God)!
Our church is very accepting of people. "Come as you are. We will love and accept you." could easily be our motto. (Hopefully other churches can also boast of these Christlike qualities.) We do have many activities which may meet the needs of a variety of individuals as well, but I think more what would be the best thing would be for her to come and "try" out the church for herself. Find out if we are what we claim to be. And most importantly, is God the center of and reason for all we do. If so, then she will know by the Spirit if this is where she belongs. We'll still love her and accept as a sister whether she feels led to attend our church or another.

Roughrider said...

I hear this a lot from people who are looking for a church. I understand they look for a church that has programs for their children, an effective preaching ministry, and biblical teaching. At the same time my heart breaks a little when I hear Christians considering a church with a "What's in it for me?" attitude.
This is a lot like the disciples mother trying to get her boys to sit at either side of Jesus when He comes into His kingdom.
The kingdom of God is not about us, our convenience, or our timetable. It's about Him.
My wife and I have a plan when we retire from pastoral ministry. We're praying that we'll find a small church that needs help. There we want to labor in the kingdom in any fashion that we're still able.
The contemporary idea of people "shopping for a church" that offers this and that is okay, but I'd rather "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
It's all about serving him, not us. Wait a minute. Thinking like that could lead to revival. Better forget about that. It could lead to dancing.

tottinge said...

I think that asking about distinctives isn't so bad. What is your church's unique mission? What is different about the way you interact with the community? What is your approach to ministry? What are the primary Christian values you try to model and recognize?

If someone is going to consider joining a church, it's not a bad question to ask. It's better to attend and ask several people, because the congregation and pastor often don't have the same view. Pastors can be idealistic and optimistic about what the strengths are, and can miss what the Church (big C) likes about the church (little c).

Shirley said...

I wish that Mike were here to answer your question. In less than 3
months we will be looking for a church that meets both our needs.
The first thing I look for in a church is if it is a preaching church or a teaching church. I've been preached at all my life and now I'm seeking knowledge. I want to hear a man that keeps me on the edge of my seat waiting for the explanation of something that I've read all my life but never fully understood. One example is the story about changing the water to wine. I've heard this story all my life but until a few years no one ever pointed out about the pots that were used were the ones that were used for washing . This may seem to be something that I should have
picked up on myself but some times when you hear the same basis story so many times you just don't hear the whole thing. I want a teacher who takes the Bible step by step and helps me understand it better. Boy, has Mike got a job when he gets home!
Aside from that I would want a church that had programs for all age
groups. One thing that I really liked about the Church of God here that I was going to was that once a month we had a senior potluck meal. It was held at noon on a week day giving seniors an excuse to get out of the house-which I'm finding is very important once you've retired.
Okay, I've rambled on long enough.

Darrell said...

Here is my response to the woman I spoke to earlier this week:

First and foremost, one thing we have is dynamic praise and worship and people who love the Word of God. This is a church were the Holy Spirit is allowed to move, and that it is not uncommon for us to set the planned service aside and just allow the Holy Spirit to move and minister to the Body.
Another reason you would like our church is because this is a place where you can be real. You don’t have to wear a mask or try to be something that you are not. We will accept you just as you are. We are not here to judge or criticize, but rather we see it as our mission to love people into the Kingdom and then help each one to grow. We are a group of people on a journey together and there are no big I’s and little u’s at Harvest Church. We all begin at different places and levels, but we are all headed to the same destination.
Another reason is because we allow you to have questions. I often tell people don’t be afraid to ask God a question. God is big enough to handle your question, and besides, He already knows what you are thinking.
Another reason to come to Harvest Church would be if you are interested in ministry. Not just being ministered to, but putting your faith in action. It is our goal at Harvest Church to help each person understand that they are a minister, assist them in finding their calling and to train and equip them to do the work that God as called them to do.

I finished by telling her our church motto: “ A place to believe… A place to belong.”
I told her that if she just wanted to come to sit and be ministered to, she and her family were welcome and could find a place, but she needed to understand that we would challenge her to not just to attend, but to be an active part of Harvest Church. Our goal is not to just gain more people who attend so that we have the largest church, but we want people who come to believe in Jesus Christ and Lord and Savior and then find a place to belong.

revjlt1 said...

I simply would of invited her to come and check the church out for herself. Each and every one of us can put together a list of things we would like to see in a church. But, we would never know where we belonged until we visit.

I would have told her what my church has to offer and invited her to meet my wife and I after the church service that she visited. Sometimes people aren't just looking for a church, they may be looking for a pastor.

Sarah said...

I thought about this all day yesterday and continued today. The thing I kept going back to is the header on the website which states(bold added by me) Welcome to the Harvest Church of God's website. The Harvest Church of God is a place to find comfort. We like to term it: "A place to belong." We welcome anyone to come visit us. We think you'll find it is a great place to attend church (even if its been a while since you've attended church or you've never attended a church). Our dress is "comfortable" (which means whether you are comfortable in jeans or a suit, that is appropriate.) We'd like everyone to be a part of "The Harvest." When we talk about our church I find several who reference these points. A place where everybody belongs and finds comfort. What is funny is I find comfort that NOBODY belongs. I mean we all have such extreme backgrounds, age, economic settings, personal style, family size, that it isn't very likely many of us would normally, in my opinion, be in the same room together for any other reason. I don't feel like an outcast because we are all outcasts. I think pastor nailed it by saying it is a place to be real. We can't all be sticky sweet :ahem: Amber :cough: Just kidding. :)

Karen S said...

That's a really hard question to answer?? If a person is looking for a church where they will be entertained ours is not the place. I really feel that if a person would be committed to attending services & spending time on a daily basis in God's Word then they will benefit from being a part of our fellowship. Even though we, at this time, may not have alot of programs just to be in His presence & to hear the Word the Lord is giving will do more for ones soul & family than anything else. I would also respond that our church is a place were you will have an on going need to check your relationship with Christ. Due to the Word spoken & the presence of Christ, it is very hard to sit through a service with out asking Christ for His forgiveness and in turn walking in a place that is Holy & pleasing to Christ. Sometimes I think about why so many come & go?? I really believe it is because the presence of Christ is so strong that it is almost impossible to just sit with out making a decision to follow Him. Thank you Father for a house of Worship that brings the conviction of the Holy Ghost. I know that our congregation will not always be the size it is now for I believe the vision & promise God has given. So I will do all I can to see this promise is fulfilled in this House.

Anonymous said...

Our church has many different people that attend. No one judges the other for how much money they have or how they dress, or even how many times a month they attend. They are happy to see you when you are there, and miss you when you aren't. My girls sometimes will say they don't want to go, but are always happy that they went after we leave. They enjoy Wednessday nights with there individual groups.
Our pastor is a great guy and a wonderful leader. He is kind and caring. He doesn't always tell you what you want to hear, but instead tells you what you need to hear. And he will tell you over and over until you understand. His main concern is how he can help you have a closer relationship to Jesus. I am very happy that we chose to stay at this church. It gives my family the spiritual guidance we so desperately need. Thank you, Pastor and all the other people of the church.