How to find the wrong church.

I noticed a few weeks ago that the streets in the city centre were filled with more cars than usual. As I walked through the cold autumn air, across
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Lower Mallow Street to my car, several parents with their older teens walked past. I realised a new year at the Universities had begun again. The busyness in the city was the new and returning students visiting the city with their parents, getting their bearings, and enjoying their last few moments together.

Fall brings a lot of movement into the Limerick City area. Summer holiday is over, school is beginning, colleges and universities are welcoming back old students, as well as new and foreign.
With all the foreign and new students at the University of Limerick (UL), Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), Mary Immaculate College and many others, there are people looking and searching for a church to call home. Some students are looking for something different from what they grew up attending, others are looking for something familiar.

Whether you are a new student, or moving house, is important that when we are looking for a church, we are using the right criteria, the right measuring stick to decide which church is "right for me". In this post I am going to write about how to find the wrong church.

To find the
wrong church…

1. Find a church that caters to your wants.

2. Look for a church just because it makes you feel good.

3. Simply look for a large, popular church.

4. Search for a church that will be entertaining.

If you follow these four criteria you are nearly guaranteed to find the wrong kind of church every time. On the other hand, if you sincerely want to know God-- if you sincerely want to learn the Bible-- if you sincerely want to be spiritually healthy-- if you sincerely want to receive the truth when it feels good, and when it doesn’t-- then you need to base your search for a church on what they believe and teach. If that description fits your needs, the rest of this article is for you:

To find the
right church…

1. Don't look for a church that merely caters to your wants.

Let me take you to the Sea of Galilee. There stood Jesus Christ with the twelve and a multitude of people. The multitude ate and enjoyed the bread and the fish, but later, when Jesus taught "hard" truths everyone left, except the twelve.
John 6:60-68 They stayed because Jesus had the truth, even when it was difficult to understand. The others left Jesus, and missed out on all they could have seen and experienced if they had just stuck around like the twelve. If we are basing our search on how well they fill our wants, we may be missing out on truth somewhere else that could heal our home, our marriage, help us with our addictions, give us hope through our depression, and give us the spiritual guidance and strength to choose right.

To find the
right church…

2. Look for a church that doesn't always make you feel good.

It is nice to feel good. There are many things that make us feel good, but truth be told, feeling good is not always actually good for us. Coke and Fanta make us feel good, but to make a diet of them would be deadly. Crisps and sweets feel good. Ice cream feels good. If we lived our physical lives indulging and only taking in what made us feel good, we would be very unhealthy and likely die early. We need a variety of foods, but mostly fruit, veg, proteins, and whole grains, with ice cream only on occasion.

It is no different when it comes to what's on offer in a church. Some churches are like ice cream shops. Their main goal is making people feel good. They serve loads of ice cream with all the toppings, then stick a Flake in for good measure. Like the physical world, this is not healthy. "Feel good" spiritual food is good, on occasion, but we need to have more fruit, veg, and meat if we are going to be healthy. To look for a church merely because it makes us "feel good" could be spiritually devastating.
Matthew 4:4; Acts 20:27

To find the
right church…

3. Look deeper than the size, or popularity, of the church.

As a student in college business class, I was taught to go to a church where there were a lot of people -- so I could make contacts. Even as a new Christian, I knew this was wrong. The purpose of choosing a church should not be for making money, or getting business contacts. Jesus cast out the money changers for this very thing. They turned the house of God into a den of thieves. Others search for a large church simply to improve their social standing. Both of these reasons are vain (empty).

In Bible times, the Jewish religion had far more followers and attendance than Jesus did. If we used size of following, or affluence, as our criteria to judge the Saviour, then He would have been an utter failure. I am not opposed to large churches. After all, my wife and I once went to a church that had 11,000 people on any given Sunday. However, to base one's attendance at a church merely on its size is going to lead us astray. Church should not be a place for popularity contests or business negotiations. Some leaders have their eyes on your wallet and will say whatever you want to hear. Others will avoid and omit Bible teaching that is uncomfortable. Both attitudes in church leadership will lead to corrupt teachings and doctrines.
II Timothy 4:2-4; Matthew 7:15; Matthew 10:16; II Peter 2:1-2

To find the
right church…

4. Look for a church that takes it's business seriously.

In our meetings, I like to tell jokes and interesting stories here and there to help people to understand the truth I am trying to convey. Jesus used this method, as well. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a church service, but this is a very weak way to determine where to attend regularly. There is great entertainment at the films, and at Thomond Park, but that is not the purpose of church. This is the purpose of the church: to teach the truths of the Gospel locally, regionally, and internationally. If a church is going to teach the whole counsel of God (all that the Bible has to offer) there are going to be some areas that ARE uncomfortable. We would all know better than to choose a GP, dentist, solicitor, etc., based on how amusing they are. Common sense tells us our health and well-being require facing unpleasant truths on occasion, and this applies to our spiritual health and well-being as well.
Acts 20:27-30

As uninteresting as it may seem, the most important page you can look at on a church website is the doctrinal page. Although, I would not recommend this to be the only criteria, it should be certainly be the beginning.

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Want to learn more?
Join us
Sundays for our Sunday Meetings 11:30am & 5:00pm in the city centre.
7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, 061.22.44.22 or 086.79.39.106.