I had a very interesting discussion yesterday with a new friend. We were discussing the church, unity among believers, sectarianism, etc.
At one point, we started talking about reasons that people choose to meet with one church over another church. There are many, many different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are gospel related, but I think most of the reasons are not related to the gospel.
Instead, people choose to meet with a certain church based on music styles, preaching/teaching styles, leadership personalities, ministry programs available, etc. Similarly, people choose to meet with a certain church instead of another because of denomination or specific doctrines: baptism, Lord’s Supper, end times, etc.
As we were talking, I started wondering, are these valid reasons for choosing to meet with one church instead of another? If a group of believers meet near me, is it valid to meet with another group farther away because of these issues? Is that choice perpetuating the divisions among believers?
Now, please don’t misunderstand me… I’m seriously asking these questions. In fact, I asked my friend, if my family moved to another city, how should we choose which church to meet with?
Do I start by assuming that I must meet with a group that’s part of the same denomination as my background? Is this a valid filter?
Do I choose based on certain doctrines, such as baptism, end times, communion, etc? Are these valid reasons to reject a certain group of believers?
What about music styles, preaching/teaching styles, ministry programs? What about buildings and other aesthetics? Are these valid reasons to choose or not choose a certain church over another?
I realized as we were talking that we tend to choose churches based on ourselves, our beliefs, our needs, our comforts… based on us.
Should we instead choose to meet with the believers who are closest to us or with whom we can spend the most time? Are these valid reasons?
To be honest… I don’t know the answer.
So, I ask you, if you were going to move to another city, far away from where you currently live, what criteria would you use to choose which church to meet with? Why that criteria?