- Bigger is not necessarily better. Although big Churches may have excellent programs, praise and worship, and other things, they tend to let people fall through the cracks. People come into the Church; get fired up, yet because there is no one to disciple them they leave weeks, or months later. Big Churches aren’t set up for retention, and many people leave because of lack of personal interest in their lives, either from leadership, or other members. It’s better to find a small Church where everyone gets to know you by name. You will also be more accountable to a smaller congregation than a large congregation where the people may never get to know you.
- If the Pastor, or leader isn’t confronting sin, but preaches or teaches things to tickle our ears: prosperity gospel, name it and claim it, or other non-working beliefs, then don’t go there. Many Christian adults and teenagers are caught in addictions and need help. Speaking to your wallet or bank account saying, “Money cometh to you!” is not the way to get the healing you need. It will never come. If we are caught in addictions, more money means more money to spend on our addictions. We don’t need more money, we need a relationship with God.
- If we call it ‘Organized Religion’ then our service should have an element of organization. The problem is that in many congregations God is restricted in moving because of the order of the service. I’ve seen bulletins that outlay the whole service from start to finish, with no room for God to move. I’ve seen up to 18 parts of the service listed in the bulletin from opening prayer, doxology, prayer before message, prayer after message, praise and worship time, childrens service, etc. There is no freedom for God to move; we’ve put Him in a box.
- There is no follow up with new converts. They are handed a pocket Gospel of John, and sent on their merry way. There is no discipleship in most Churches. Bible studies are usually not pertinent to a hurting person who has just come into the flock. Truly, God won’t trust His new born babes to faulty incubators. This is the reason why there is very little ‘fresh blood’ in Churches. It’s the converted speaking to the converted. Find a Church where they put new converts in high priority.
- If you go to a Church and they talk incessantly about tithing, and other issues with giving money, take it as a red flag. Out of the mouth speaks the abundance of the heart. I’m not against people paying their tithes, or offerings, but I have been in a Church where the senior Pastor would give a mini sermon on giving and money every week just before the offering. This may pad the Church’s bank account, but it spiritually bankrupts the congregation members.
- If the leader is involved in pornography, or sexual immorality you will NOT grow under their ministry. They are blind guides, and they will lead you into a pit. You have every right to ask a Church leader if they are involved in anything that is sexually immoral, or are involved in pornography. Watch the way they answer, and if their answer raises a red flag, be sure to avoid them, and their Congregation.
- When at the Church, watch how the leader’s family behaves. Is the Pastor’s wife rude to the Pastor in front of the congregants? Are their children well behaved? Do you sense genuine love from them? Do they show an interest in you and your family? Do they express a willingness to help you and your family? It is EXTREMELY important to test the spirits. Not every minister has your best interest at heart, watch carefully how they behave and conduct their affairs with you and other members.
Many Churches have a ‘dark’ side to them. I have heard of stories of Pastor’s committing adultery with their flock, children being sexually abused, and the list sadly goes on and on. Not everyone who says they are a Christian are Christian, and that includes Church leaders. Take the time to get to know the Pastor and his family. When you pray to God, do what He tells you to do, and listen to that still small voice of His. Remember if you haven’t grown in the past year it may be because of the failure of your Church, or Congregation to meet the needs of you and your family. It may be time to move on.
Incidentally, I have found that once I left a congregation I was never contacted by anyone there ever again. They totally ostracized me, and wrote me off. If this happens to you, you can rest assure that you were in the wrong place. Any decent Pastor should be willing to support you as you transition to another congregation. If they get angry with you or your family for leaving, or try manipulation, then be nice to them, but avoid them, and sever all contact with them. They do not have your best interests at heart.
I can’t stress enough the importance of testing the spirits. Do not go headlong into a Church because it makes you ‘feel’ good. The Kingdom of God is not based on our feelings. Feelings come and go, but it’s more important to have solid teaching than the ‘butterfly’ feelings that come with some Congregations.
Don’t be looking for signs and wonders. The children of Israel walked between two heaped up walls of water, and in a very short time later made a golden calf and worshipped it. Don’t seek the sign, seek the Giver of the sign.
Watch for my discipleship course I will be starting up later next month. It will cost 18 dollars a month which comes to less than sixty cents a day, less than a cup of coffee. It will run for twelve months. In it I will teach you how to have a right relationship with God, and come to the place where you actually start to have fun with God. That’s right. Fun! God Bless you, and have a super week.