Two months ago, a friend emailed me for advice on finding a solid church.
I wanted to respond that I was the wrong person to ask. I’ve never “church hopped” or “church shopped.” I’ve never had to hunt down a healthy congregation. My Dad became a pastor in 2001, the year I was born. Not once have I packed up or moved out.
And I’m realizing my experience is a rare blessing.
No, my church isn’t perfect. Throughout my eighteen years, it has struggled against divisiveness, wrestled sin, and suffered loss. But it has also grown in spiritually exciting ways.
So instead of trying to scrape together wise words for my church-seeking friend, I emailed back a list of bullet points— things I respect, appreciate, enjoy, and love about my own church. The exercise opened my eyes to the beauty and power and necessity of a healthy church.
I hope it reveals that to you too.
1. My church is gospel-centered. That means our sermons, songs, and Sunday school lessons are hinged on the glorious truth of what Jesus has done.
2. My church is Scripture-steeped. We don’t just read the Bible. We study it, ponder it, sing about it, preach around it, and cling to it as God-breathed truth.
3. My pastors love Jesus and his Word and don’t pretend to be perfect.
4. I have rich friendships inside the church. And my friends aren’t just peers. Within my Sunday school class alone, I get to mingle with tweens and newlyweds and moms and silver-haired grandmothers.
5. My Sunday school class is amazing. I am loving unpacking the Old Testament with my sisters in Christ. (And Jen Wilkin’s Bible studies are superb.)
6. My church lets young people (like me) serve. Last Sunday, my nineteen-year-old friend and I got to lead our congregation in a worship song. My church values its young people and allows us to play music, teach Scripture, and jump into ministry outreaches.
7. My church sings theologically-rich songs. Music has a shaping power that follows us throughout our week. When my Mondays and Tuesdays are rough, I’m humming lyrics from Sunday that refocus my gaze on the glorious gospel.
8. Prayer is prioritized. Every Wednesday night, my friends and I sit knee-to-knee and become vulnerable to God. We lay bare our needs and requests as we learn to ask in faith, knowing he hears us (1 Jn. 5:15).
9. People care. Chemo treatments. Last-minute surgeries. Job losses. Family tragedies. In the valleys of our lives, when the shadows are long and the pain stings, I watch my church family huddle close. It’s more than fleeting empathy. It’s compassion modeled after the greatest compassion-giver: Jesus.
10. Our priorities are clear and critical: To know God, enjoy God, and to make God known.
I don’t want to underestimate the power and necessity of the church. And I don’t want to forget that church isn’t about me. Or you.
Church is about a holy God who deserves all our worship and Jesus Christ who saved us and will return for his Bride (Rev. 22:17).
What do you love about your church?