Right after entering this new season of my life, I started my journey of looking for a church. Why the change? After all, I seemed to come across as being really ‘pleased’ with my decision of not belonging to one for quite some time.
In fact, I have heard that there were some people that that I know were irate about what I wrote on this blog previously, saying that I will stumble well-meaning Christians not to attend church, and one even saying that ‘I am not Christian’
Well, I stated it quite clearly in my past post is that have expectations of what a church should be like, I don’t want to waste my time attending any church thinking that I am safe or godly being in a place that is not right. We don’t just go to church for friendships (fellowship), and no one is guaranteed a place in heaven just by attending church faithfully on Sundays. Especially when there is no true allegiance to God, or genuine heart transformation, or a discipline to walk with God daily.
There has to be a confirmation from God that a particular church is where He wants me to be, as I am not willing to settle for any less.
What are the factors important for you in a church?
Recently I chanced upon a post from a Christian author who did a survey of this question, ‘If you were searching for a new church today, what are the factors that will be very important to you?’
Sharing some of the answers that he got,
1. Truth being preached
2. Safe place for my kids
3. There has to be prophetic worship, prophetic ministry, anointed prophetic word-centred preaching, prayer and prayer ministry and outward vision
4. Fellowship-worship-Doctrinally Pure-and a leadership that is not afraid of the spiritual gifting that God puts in people
6. Pastor that know God’s heart and can lead and teach accordingly
7. More God, less talk of people
8. Manifest presence of God
9. None of the above: only whether or not I am called to be there
According to the writer, point 9, is the correct answer, although I would be ideal if all 1-9 points were fulfilled, although I would think the majority of churches in Singapore fulfill points 1, 2, 5, 6, while point 8 is subjective. Really subjective.
Before I go on, I would like to address that by no means this is a post to show that ‘my church is better than yours’, and that I take pride in my ‘knowledge.’
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have to agree that I do know more than the average Christian as I take the time to read, research and search through the Bible. And pray daily that I will grow in the spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of God, and that I may know what is the hope of God’s calling on my life (Ephesians 1:17-18).
I pray the same for you too, dear readers, that you will be a good berean to search out the word of God (Acts 17:11) and that your eyes of understanding will be enlightened to God’s will and His calling on your life.
All I hope by writing this post, with sharing my take and experience of my own search, that might provide some additional insight into your own search for a church.
Have We Started asking God what He wants us to do in Churches?
Here is something biblical that most of the people surveyed here didn’t include it in as one of the factors, which are actual words from Jesus, nonetheless,
‘ Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?… - Mark 11:17
which was also from Matthew 21:13, and this verse in Isaiah;
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – Isaiah 56:7
What is it about prayer meetings or gatherings, that Christians tend to shun it or take it as last priority? Thinking that it’s embarrassing to have to pray out loud in front of people or that it not for me.
Most of us know what we want when it comes to the churches that we select. However, what we deem important for majority of church goers, similar to what is written from the will on God? (To know the will of God, spend time in the bible).
Btw, it is not a case of me vs them, as I am now an officially a church goer, since a month ago.
My Priorities in Selecting a Church?
In an ideal world, it will be great if all churches fulfill all points 1-9. And rather enthusiastically, I will share that the new church that I have started attending fulfills all points 1 – 9, including the one about prayer that I brought up.
The church leaders are focused on making their church ‘A House of Prayer’ by having intercessionary prayer gatherings twice-thrice a week for 2-3 hours. It was through their prayer meetings that I discovered this church, which I have started attending regularly.
I am still discovering more about point 5 so far, after all, friendships are build over time. But as I have encountered so far, the people in this church are genuine and warm-hearted, especially the leadership.
A rare thing for the leadership to know who are the people who attend their churches these days, notably in the sea of bigger or mega churches where some of the Pastors don’t even know who attends their churches, and tend to be very concerned about the tithe that are brought into the church by the members.
When I found out from the one of the Pastors, that the mission of the church is to help people to love God wholeheartedly and seek Him fervently, my heart leaped, as this was fully in line with my spiritual walk with God. There is also an on-going focus to prepare the church to be an end-times church, so there are often very convicting sermons preached about how to prepare for Jesus’ coming for the church.
At the last church service, the Senior Pastor continued on his series on the Sermon of the Mount, a study into what it meant by ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ (Matthew 5:8). Towards the end of the sermon, he called for people to come up to the front and kneel with him, to re-affirm our commitment to God. All of the 40+ people seated, came up to kneel together with the Pastor in front and there was not dry eye left in the room!
Interestingly, there is no children’s ministry for this church yet, as the congregation is really small (40 going on to 50 people now, like a big cell group!). But K didn’t complaint even when he had to sit next to me for that 2.5 hours during church service. He even wants to go back regularly, as he said he felt Jesus’ presence strongly during their service.
I have learnt never to underestimate a child when it comes to spiritual things, often their faith and belief will astound an adult. A child can know the truth and difference sometimes better than an adult, when it comes to the manifest presence of God!
So for sure, this is not a place for people who ‘play church‘ :P. So don’t contact me out of curiosity what church is this, rather, do feel free to drop me a note if you are in search for a church and are keen to visit this church.
Prayer or Worship?
What I have experienced in this church, is that I get plenty of goosebumps all over during their no-frills worship session, just with 1 worship leader with his guitar and two other members playing the electronic keyboard and a set of drums. It’s more than just a worship leader being anointed to lead in worship, it is the strong presence of the Holy Spirit in the place which cannot be denied!
It’s confirmation for me, that a church does not need ‘super-star’ worship leaders with great voices, a choir, or even lighting effects. It is very bright in the room all the time, but I felt a deep sense of reverence for God and extremely humbled in the church, to a point that I am compelled to take off my shoes and knee down during worship.
I have consistently experienced the same in this church during the prayer meetings.
I would attribute to the church’s focus on prayer, as one of the main key factors to usher the presence of God very strongly in their midst.
Revival is surely in this house of prayer!
Here are some controversial insights from John Burton about worship and prayer that I fully agree with;
‘Today’s pop worship culture better take notice. The incense, the worship is holy. It’s for God. It’s not to enhance our personal experience! It is not perfume for us, it’s incense for God!
I’ve become increasingly grieved at how popular worship events can draw thousands while prayer meetings draw few. The call to prayer is rejected.
Even more disturbing is how easy it is for people to blend in, raise their hands, dance at the altar and enjoy even truly anointed musical worship – while not legitimately worshiping at all and not being grieved over their immaturity, sin and lack of radical commitment to the cross of Christ. They celebrate some presumed freedom while not being locked in as prayer-driven people, broken and fervent warriors. No sacrifice. No surrender. Just a pursuit of a personal supernatural experience. I’m becoming more convinced than ever that many of these supernatural experiences are certainly supernatural, but not holy.’
Be prepared to see things differently as you read more from here.
Are we in dire need for revival in Christian-dom as a whole? I believe so. And I think spiritual revival in churches will be ignited when churches have a strong focus on being Houses of PRAYER.