I’ve been in ministry for 30 years. I’ve served some great people and some great churches. I was asked a few weeks ago, “what kind of church would you like to attend?” I thought about my answer and gave more thought to it , over the course of a few weeks. It might seem simple, but here is what I came up with:
- Welcomed. Every person on the planet wants to be welcomed. It doesn’t really take a lot of effort to be nice. I mean, just be nice and I’m already happy that I came to church. I’ve noticed that churches aren’t always filled with the nicest folks.
- Accepted. I’m pretty odd. I don’t fit in every circle, but I love it when I feel like I do. I genuinely hate bigotry and racism. I would love to worship where poor folks and wealthy folks are accepted. I’d love to worship where any ethnicity and any of life’s hang-ups get parked at the door, knowing that the Divine will settle all of that out once we truly worship.
- Challenged. I don’t need a week-kneed, gutless, make me feel good about me talk. I want to know that when I’ve left that church, I am better for having been there. I want to be encouraged and pushed a bit. That’s true for every aspect of that church. Push me to grow, to serve, to make a difference!
- God-Focused. I can watch a Ted Talk if I need to know about Global Warming. I come to worship to get my heart set on the things that matter to the Divine, don’t you? I’ve noticed that when we focus on what the Divine says is important, we are drawn into His plans to redeem mankind. Did I mention that I want to make a difference?
- Prayerful. The weakest part of my walk with God has always been my prayer life. That is, until I was challenged and equipped to know how to pray. I want to worship at a church that listened to Jesus when He described His church as a “House of Prayer.”
- Fun. I know that there is a significant part of faith that requires reverence. But reverence doesn’t mean dead, dull, or boring. I think Jesus laughed a lot when Peter reached in the fish’s mouth to find a coin that would pat his taxes. Jesus and the guys had to have laughed after taking the little boy’s lunch that Jesus fed 5,000 folks with. They had to have been laughing at having all that food left over!
- Safe. This takes on two separate meanings. 1) Yes, I mean that my family, especially my kids and grandkids are literally safe. And 2) that I am safe to think, to laugh, to cry, to worship loudly or pray softly. Hands in the air, or tucked in my pocket. I want to be free to expect the supernatural and when the supernatural happens, don’t try to explain it or understand it. Just worship!
The list could go on and on, but that’s a good start. I don’t know of a church that meets these criteria every single week, but I want to be welcomed, accepted, challenged, God-focused, prayerful and safe the vast majority of the Sundays that I am there.
I also would like to think that I have prepared my heart for worship. I should hope that I would think more about my engagement with God more than denominational dogma, building more buildings or whether the music was my cup of tea.
But wait! Is this about me or about the church? The answer is YES!