Church Shopping?

If we like the menu and food at a restaurant, we eat there. If we like the prices and selection at particular grocery store, we buy our food there. If we find a favorite mall, we do much of our shopping there. We are used to choosing where we spend our money and time. Why not do the same with churches?

It is not uncommon to find some people who flitter about from one church to another in their lifetimes. For a while they may prefer the pastor at one congregation, but then they get tired of him and go someplace else. Likewise, they might like the activities and the people at a church, but then a disagreement or falling out occurs, and they leave that church for someplace else. Church membership is only as consistent as a person’s feelings and relationships at the moment.

A Different Kind of Membership

There is, however, another way of looking at church membership, a way which has staying power. It is not ultimately concerned whether the pastor is friendly or inspirational, but whether he is telling the truth about God. It is not concerned whether the members are outgoing or whether the church has enough social activities, but whether the church stands fast upon the Word of God.

If you select a church based on human qualities of the pastor or people you are making a selection which is bound to change as easily as the pastor or people themselves change — like shifting sands in the prevailing winds. That is why we want to direct your attention to the Word of God as it is preached and taught and not on personalities and creature comforts. As 1 Peter 1:24-25 states: “For all men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the Word that was preached to you.”

In John 8:31-32, we read that Jesus said to those who believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We are concerned about abiding in Christ’s Word of truth as His disciples. There is nothing wishy-washy or willy-nilly about abiding as Christ’s disciple. Becoming a member of a congregation is to be something more than joining and quitting in an easy-come-easy-go way.

Many churches today want to emphasize that they are friendly. Many want to emphasize how many programs for fun, fellowship, and convenience they may offer. But how many claim to have the truth? Friendliness, convenience, and social interaction are all nice things, but they are not what will help you stand before the Almighty Lord God.

Our concern is not in arguing over that claim, but in proclaiming Law and Gospel faithfully. The Law exposes our need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It shows that we need forgiveness. The Gospel is not for people who think that they are “basically good.” The Gospel is for the broken-hearted sinners who need life which Jesus gives through His gifts.

Thanks, and a tip of the hat, to Rev. Joel Brondos for the above suggestions.

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Faith is a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.