A couple of things I decided before going on Sabbatical:
- I would not be on break from the Holy Spirit. I would continue reading the Scriptures and praying daily.
- I would not be on break from the body of Christ. That meant finding a church where I’m staying these few months and going there regularly, at least once a week. This proved interesting, to say the least. I haven’t searched for fellowship in 35 years. There was that initial experience right after coming to Christ, when I was led to seek out other believers. Then from that point on, due to the network of fellowship I entered, I’ve always known where I would be going from place to place.
This year, I didn’t.
So I found myself needing to apply the advice I’ve given others.¹
- Look for Word. That begins when cruising websites of local churches. Is there a commitment to the Bible and the historic Christian faith in their statement of faith? Sample (if possible) sermons online. How does Word come through in the preaching? Is it given primacy? If yes, attend.
- Look for community. This begins when you get out of the car. Do the people greet you, and are they interested in you? Are they warm toward each other? Do they seek to include you (without being presumptive or pushy)? If yes, keep attending.
- Look for service. This evolves over a reasonable amount of time. Are there chances to put your faith into action among them and minister together with them, shoulder to shoulder? If yes, stay.
My wife and I used this grid and found a church on the first try. It wasn’t the biggest place in town, nor the youngest, nor the most tech-savvy. In fact, I’m sure that somewhere around here, we’re missing out on cooler programming, a funnier preacher, and a building with bookstore/coffee shop combo inside. If we spent more weekends, we could probably find a better Sunday morning show. But that search wouldn’t be for the body of Christ. It would be for my personal tastes and distractions.
Life is short. Spend it with the believers, and not in an alleged hunt for them.
1 If you’d like more on this topic, please check Amazon for my book Shopping Versus Seeking: A Focused Approach to Finding a Church.