Yesterday on SCL, Jon asked what we’d be afraid to confess/admit at our church. I think that as ministers it’s time we stop assuming that our church is the exception to the rule, and start focusing less on sin and more on the one who came to seek and save sinners. This ought to be a sobering reminder for us that, as I said in my comment over there, the gospel is NEWS as opposed to instruction. Stop telling your people how to stop sinning and clean up their act. Tell them of the one whose act was clean, who offers his record in exchange for their broken, ugly one.
I love it because you don’t have to wear a mask. I mean, I still do… I just don’t have to. I see the pastors every week taking off their masks and allowing us to glimpse how the gospel is changing them. Someday, I’ll take mine off, too.
My church isn’t perfect. But the one to whom she is betrothed is. I’m so thankful it’s HIM that the pastors and worship leaders strive to take me to each week.
We are open to suggestions, as long as those suggesting don’t take it too personally if we don’t go to (or try out) their church. Here’s some rough idea of what we are looking for: We are ok with PCA churches, Sovereign Grace churches, Acts 29 churches, and other theologically conservative, reformed type churches. If we could go to any church on the planet it would be Tim Keller’s church in NYC, so that tells you an ideal to shoot for. I want a church that has a missions focus driven by the gospel. To be honest, culturally or politically conservative churches kind of scare me.
Also, since we are going to be living in Holly Springs, distance is near the top of the list. I like the idea of a community to get plugged into. I don’t want to drive 45 minutes to church.
Now for some things that will immediately turn me off about a church:
- If they don’t do background checks on ALL childcare workers. I know you know everyone that works with children and have since they were kids… but I don’t know them. I wouldn’t drop my kid off at a daycare without certification, and I am not going to drop them off at your church nursery either. Those places without background checks are magnets for pedophiles. All they have to do is pretend they like Jesus.
- If the sermon focuses more on making me a better person than pointing me to a better person (Jesus). I don’t need self-help. I need saving.
- If I get even a hint of “God will bless you if you give” from your church, I’m out. God has blessed me in Christ, so I give. Never the other way around.
We are looking forward to finding a new church, but we hate to be leaving a church here in Asheville that is amazing. But God is big enough to have more than one amazing church. I’ve been a member of THREE amazing churches, during and since college.
Bring on number 4.
Where should we go to church in the Triangle?
If you’d* all give money to your church, pastors and others on staff there wouldn’t need to be bi-vocational to feed their family.
9% of North Americans who classify themselves as “born again” tithed in 2004. We spend more as a culture on weight-loss programs or pet food than we give to the church. (source)
If the other 91% of you would give just 10%–imagine the amount of money that would be. You could hire some more full time workers, send more missionaries fully-funded into the field, and fully support the needy in your community. If American Christians would just give 10%, we could end world hunger next year.
By the way, 10% is probably a bare minimum by biblical standards for a Christian to give, since the tithe in the Old Testament was replaced by simple encouragements like “give generously” or “give hilariously” in the New Testament. It is kind of expected that Christians would give, since they have been given so much, by Jesus. We don’t give to earn God’s favor, but as a result of receiving it.
So give. Your pastor deserves to be compensated for his work. If he takes the “pastoral” name off of his counseling duties, they are worth $90 an hour in the marketplace. And he’s willing to do it for free. Don’t let him. Pay your pastors well.
I heard a pastor recently say “If you don’t think this is the best church around here, by all means go to the other one. But if you do, act like it, and invite a friend.” I’d say that also carries over to the financial support of your church. You aren’t acting like it is your church when you aren’t generously financially supporting it.
*after encouragement from my wife, who is nicer than me, I’d like to add that if you give, then the above “you” is not referring to you, and I don’t mean to offend you. The only people that should be offended by this post are the ones not giving. I meant to offend them. For their own good.