The Most Important Aspect When Looking for a Church

What is the most important aspect when looking for a church?

For the first time in our marriage Sarah and I and in a situation where need to go out and find a church. “Church shopping” makes me want to throw up in my mouth, and yethere we are. The notion of “shopping” for a church is nauseating because it takes some thing beautiful and destroys it. Church shopping takes the Holy and Righteous Bride of Christ and treats her like she’s no more important than a Startbucks cup of coffee.

Is church just a product to be consumed or something more?

The Bible says the Church is the “fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 1:22-23) You don’t get the fullness of Christ without church – it’s thatimportant. Without getting too deep into theologies of the Universal Church vs the City Church vs local church, I believe it is ablsolute vital to faith in Jesus Christ to experience that faith in the community of a local church. For that reason the most important aspect of finding a church will be finding a community where we can SERVE. A communtiy where our unique gifts, talents and calling can be fully exploited and leveraged for the sake of the Gospel.

It’s not about what you get out of church, but what give to your Savior and others.

Yes, Sarah and I are hoping to serve in some way. My family has been pretty beat up by the transtion and we need a place to heal, but we don’t plan on taking a break from ministry. Healing doesn’t happen when you take a break from you mission. In fact, “taking time off” to heal can be the most damaging thing to faith. True spiritual healing happens when you get actively invovled in giving your entire life to Jesus and serving him with all that you’ve got. I’m not saying we want to jump immeditately into leadership – we just need some good community where we can plug into service.

So what kind of church are we looking for?

Sarah and I have come up with 4 elements we are hoping to find in the local church we want to plug into:

1. Solid Bibilical Teaching – This is the most important thing. If we are going to grow in our faith we need to find a teach who can teach us.

2. They tagibly love Huntsville– What is the church doing to actively make a difference in the city? Are all the bulletin announcement for Bible Studies and potlucks or are they getting outside their own four walls to actually love their neighbors? I’ve grown up in the church and honestly I kinda suck and loving my city. I need to find a communtiy that’s doing it and can teach me how.

3. They send missionaries all around the world – Missions in the back yard are important and so are Global missions. Do they send out people on short term missions? Do they support full-time missionaries? Bonus points are awarded if the church does sustainable ministry by sending the short-term missionaries to the same places year after year and connect with long-term missionaries in those locals.

4. They are passionate about church planting – I believe church planting is the most effective way to reach the lost and revitalize existing churches. My goal is to one day be a church planter.

Those are the big four, but bonus point are awarded for

  • The Pastor has a blog and twitter
  • Others in the church blog and twitter
  • Loud guitars with distrotion.
  • Podcasts/RSS feeds of audio and video content
  • Cool graphics on the website (shallow, and I’m just being honest.)
  • A rockin’ kids ministry (Service is the most important – I don’t care about your “kids ministry” as long as your invovling my daughters in serving Jesus. But a fun and safe Sundy morning evirionment where they look forward to going doesn’t hurt.)
  • Candles
  • Dark, dark, turn off all the lights worship.
  • Cool set design (see note on: graphics)

What do you think?

What kinds of things should we look for was we try to find a church home?

8 Responses to “The Most Important Aspect When Looking for a Church”

  1. 1 Bobby Williams December 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Hey Billy! I feel for you guys because I can only imagine what it must be like to have to “church shop.” I even hate the term. I remember what it was like for my wife and I when we were just visiting churches right before we really got started with our church plant that is launching in 2009. It was painful at times and I wasn’t even really “shopping.” You’ll miss more than you hit…which may make the road easier, I don’t know. I say all that to say I really wish you the best…

    ….In other news closely related….if you ever got a wild hair and wanted to take on some adventure and join a soon to be launched, out there, balls to the wall, gang busters church plant, then we’d love to see you move to Knoxville Tn haha. I’ve followed you for a long time as has our internet campus pastor Chris Hill, and I gotta say you would make a huge impact in Knoxville/Oak Ridge Tennessee! Might seem out there…but could be worth discussing…..

    Be good my man!

  2. 2 Bobby Gilles December 19, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Have you checked out Sojourn Church in Huntsville (note: although they share a name with my church, Sojourn in Louisville, it’s coincidence. We aren’t connected except for the fact that we’re both in the Acts 29 Network).

    Some of their ministry team came up to Louisville for our Cultivate Beauty festival last May. They seemed like a great team. One of their leaders, Eric Morgan, is very active online. I’d definitely check them out if I were in Huntsville.

  3. 3 Billy Chia December 19, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Eric is one of my favorite people in the world.

    btw – Jeremy Quillo’s “Hosanna in the Highest” fully rocks hardcore.

  4. 4 Randy Miller December 19, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    What if a church didn’t have those qualities but was striving for them? For instance, you took a peak at my church and it’s obviously light years away from what your specs are (but the pastor does blog and uses twitter…brownie points fa shuwa).

    But, we would like to take steps in those directions (rockin website, loving our community by serving, sending missionaries, planting churches). We’re not there.

    Are you looking for a church that has all those things right away or is willing to grow into those things?

    And for what it’s worth…you need to be selfish right now. You need to find a church that is going to love on you and your family with solid Bible teaching for you and your kids. Let them love on you…the serving and sending will come later.

  5. 5 Billy Chia December 19, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    The main things are the main thing. I would totally plug into a church that had a crappy website and didn’t even know what twitter was if they were loving Huntsville, had solid preaching, sent missionaries and had passion for church planting.

    At this point God is not calling us to a church that isn’t mature in those areas. God will call me into leadership again, but for this season I need to take a break from leadership and just serve. If we were at a church that was “on the way” we’d probably feel the need to be leaders in that situation.

    With all that said, it’s all about vision. If a clear vision is cast and tangible steps are being taken in a clear direction then that might just be the place for us. It’s not about being finished, it’s about the journey.

  6. 6 chelan December 20, 2008 at 10:32 am

    hey billy – good content on this post! i laughed as i read to my husb. & i’m about to share it with two couples i know that are currently in the same sit’n.

    what’s important to me & my husb. are:
    * solid Biblical preaching (not nec. expository, but lots of Bible thru-out the messages. last yr. we were going to a church that preached verse by verse and thought that was the best way for people to get the most out of preaching and the Word. but now we think that’s not nec. true. as long as the pastor’s preaching the Word accurately & in context, topical messages can be just as effective, for us anyway.)
    * a stronger emphasis on the importance of friendship-building within the church, even during church (i like having a 5 or 6 min. friendship break during svc so you actually have some time to be genuine with people instead of turning around, shakng a hand and saying, ‘morning’ while thinking “i’ve done this 4 times but have no idea who you are & it’s too late to ask now…what do i say now…” ‘nice shirt’.
    * not so much emphasis on concert-looking media elements, from video, to stage lighting/sound to a tour-ready worship band closed to new-comers that are hungry to serve in their God-given areas.
    * outreach – our church actually has a pastor on board just in charge of missions and outreach. that’s one thing that drew us there. we loved your comment about the bullatin announcements not being about potlucks and Bibles studies as much as opp.s to serve! that would be ideal, man.

  7. 7 Sarah Chia December 20, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Of course, we want a good small groups ministry, too, right? That’s where some real growth happens… when you’re in close friendships and community with other believers. Without the small groups, who’s gonna be “encouraging each other to good works” in an effective way?


    I agree that we should look for a church that’s gonna love on us. The best way for a church to love on us is to encourage us to not just sit around and suck up the lovin’, but to help us in living out those good works that we were created for in Christ (Eph. 2:10).

    The way to be healthy is to be poured into and to pour out, simultaneously. That’s how a body of water stays fresh and allows for life to survive in it, and that’s how our souls are able to live life abundantly, too.

  8. 8 alex December 20, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    If I was looking for a church…?

    Whew, what a loaded question. (thinking…)

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