The final song was coming to a close as my husband and I walked towards the stage. One of the pastors was standing up front – we made our way towards him to express our decision. He smiled and shook both of our hands before saying a quick prayer with us. As the song reached its end, he grabbed a microphone to introduce us to the congregation as the church’s newest members. Everybody replied with a loud applause and then took a moment to bow their heads to ask the Lord for His blessing over our family and our ministry.
When the service was over, we stood in the back as people approached us with wholehearted hugs and handshakes.
A wave of joy swept through me, confirming again that we are right where the Lord wants us to be.
A couple weeks ago, our family officially became members of Central Valley Baptist Church. We have been attending services and other events there for about six months now. Over that span of time, my husband and I have been prayerfully considering if this is the church to which the Lord would have us commit ourselves.
Here are a few of the things that assisted in guiding our decision.
3 questions to consider when looking for a new church:
Are its Shepherds teaching the Truth?
In many churches today, it’s not uncommon to find preachers standing at the pulpit delivering a diluted message for the sake of appealing to the itching ears of the masses. 2 Timothy 4:2-4
I want to yoke myself, and my family, with a church whose leaders are dedicated to teaching and equipping its members in the whole truth.
Random thought: Another thing I appreciate about our new Pastor is his ability to teach a powerful message that brings glory to God, rather than himself.
There are many pastors who preach great messages, but the congregation leaves the service with the thought “he is a great preacher”. Don’t get me wrong – our pastor is an awesome preacher, but when I leave the service after hearing his sermons, I’m left with the lingering thought of “wow Lord, You are a great God!”
Is there a sense of love and unity within its community?
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
A congregation marked by commitment to community is another key factor that carried weight in our decision. We desire to be part of a group of people who enjoy being together. People committed to loving, learning, serving, and growing as the body of Christ – united in their intent to live in pursuit of His kingdom.
Random thought: One thing I would have done differently is wait to check out the bulletin for their list of programs. The first Sunday we visited I naturally opened the bulletin to see what kind of Bible studies and children’s programs they had to offer. I wish I would have given myself some time to just observe the people, and to get a sense of the atmosphere before allowing the programs to subtly influence my opinion. Programs are great, but are constantly modifying. I personally, don’t believe they should hold much weight in determining the decision to join a church.
Is this where the Lord is calling us?
This is where it gets a bit more personal. There are many local churches that would have fulfilled the two conditions above. In the end, we chose this church because we felt it was the place the Lord was calling us to commit our time, talent, and treasure.
Although we believe the Lord made it very clear for us, discerning this calling is usually not black and white. He didn’t appear and point His finger over the building of the church He wanted us to go to. He didn’t speak to us in any audible voices telling us where He wanted us to go.
We prayed. We took time to get to know people. We attended a couple different fellowship events. We sought confirmation in His Word – all the while, asking Him for revelation.
As my husband and I discussed it further, we both sensed a peace in committing to community with this body. We are already beginning to build some great relationships and are getting involved serving in ministry.
We are excited to see what God does from here!