BIG SANDY, Texas--Are you attending the right church? I mean the really right church? The one and only true church? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are?
If your answer is yes, how did you convince yourself? Who told you?
A church's doctrine is obviously paramount when it comes to deciding where and with whom you will be devoting your time, but most of us adhere to the same belief system with differing degrees of variation on the same theme. The variance comes through the translation (tweaking) of Scripture. If we didn't do this, why bother to study the Bible at all? We could just let someone else dictate our beliefs to us. (We might not be right, but at least we'd all be wrong together. Unity is a powerful thing.)
For this reason, the use of the theory that every member of a particular group must agree on doctrine as the only indicator of where you belong ecclesiastically may not be the wisest move to make.
Is love the answer?
If you currently attend church where you do because of the love that envelopes you as you enter the door each Sabbath, you may want to reconsider your selection process. (I've attended churches that appeared to be so cold they didn't need air conditioning on the hottest August afternoons, but at least they all agreed they didn't need it.)
Everybody realizes that love is important, but don't lots of churches have love? If not lots, then can't we concede that there could possibly be at least one other Church of God that exhibits love? In which case, if you base your selection solely on whether you "feel loved," there is a 50 percent chance that you're in the wrong church!
Maybe love isn't the only yardstick you should use when church shopping. There could be other criteria to consider.
Spring fashion line
What is important to some people may not be important to others. Having grown up in the church, I don't know how my family could have survived without a church that provided "used clothing." Our spring fashion line always originated from someone else's castoffs. But we didn't care. We were happy to get them.
It was definitely an incentive to get to church early so you could get "first pickin'." I think that era has probably gone by the wayside, but it was a valuable service for many at that time.
Coffee vs. publications
What about church government? Is this an area that you believe needs to be addressed when making your decision on which church to attend?
Some of you may think I've already covered this subject under the category of "doctrine." Not exactly. The type of government I'm referring to here is not the "one-man-rule" vs. the "board-directed" version. I like to think of government in practical terms. Who really wields the power in the congregation? The minister?
Please! In general, he stays far too busy "ruling from the top down," making sure women know their place in the church setting or doing paperwork, to preside over the areas that most concern the laity of a typical Church of God.
When will the ministers get it? We don't care whether we've now printed 15 jillion publications in 23 languages! We want to be assured that when we arrive at services the coffee is ready and that there's plenty of cream. That requires that someone be in charge.
It doesn't matter how much we oppose the thought of "government," there are some areas of authority many of us just can't do without--deacons. (I know, I know. The mention of deacons conjures up memories of black-banded, overlording, middle-aged men breaking up unruly YOU parties and causing much dissension among the ecclesia--and that's just with the parents.)
If, after much prayer and meditation, you decide that a hot cup of freshly made coffee is important in choosing a place of worship, then I encourage you to make peace with a deacon.
For whatever reason we choose to attend a particular congregation or home fellowship, the bottom line often is because that's where we feel the most comfortable. Let's not forget that we're all in this together, scattered though we may be.
1 Please remember in your search for a church with deacons that in recent years we've noticed a sharp decline in the number of deacons and deaconesses among the churches. Although the number of official deacons and deaconesses may have declined due to a variety of reasons, an unofficial polling indicates a definite upsurge in the number of unordained servants among all the "true" churches. When you run across one, you'll recognize him--he'll be refilling the coffeepot. Please remember to thank him for his selfless deeds in serving us, just a few of God's people.
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