Usually by freshman year of college, church attendance is at a slow decline; especially when you don’t live at home. It’s easy to prioritize your weekends around home games and the need to sleep in after a late Saturday night. It’s even easier to skip church when you don’t have a parent standing beside your bed telling you to get up and shower, or you’ll be late for church.
In this newfound freedom called young adulthood, we sometimes find ourselves outside a community of believers. Even when we do, we don’t always have a clear understanding of what we should be looking for in a church.
I’ve watched the church and its programs get a major facelift over the past few years. The “new” church has an almost thespian atmosphere, very different than the former traditional setting. There’s stained concrete flooring throughout the buildings, a decor of metal and pallets line the walls, giving that industrial feel.
No longer is it common to see a choir in polyester choir robes but a band of musicians, often with Mohawks and tattoos. It’s not unusual to see this eclecticism from the same people who lead the services or who stand as greeters at the welcome center.
Church doesn’t seem so “churchy” anymore.
In fact, I go to a church very similar to what I just described. I love my church, but its “cool factor” has nothing to do with why I chose my church.
My pastor is a gifted communicator, teacher of God’s Word, and visionary. He has an obvious compulsion for God’s truth to penetrate every corner of our community. He’s not perfect, and he will tell you that. The associate family pastor has a heart for others and goes above and beyond to make others feel loved, welcomed, and important. But he’s an ordinary person who’s trying to be faithful in his calling. The music director is a talented musician who leads one awesome worship service. By far, he has the coolest hair (according to my son), but he’s flawed too.
God has blessed my church with a collective group of people who have hearts for sharing God’s Word through music, outreach, and teaching. So, when you peel off the outward appearance and look at what’s left, what do we have besides a bunch of flawed individuals in a really cool church building? You have a community of believers who love Christ, who want to grow, and who want to reach those who don’t know the freeing power of a relationship with Jesus.
So why am I writing about this? I want to make sure you’re selling out to your faith and not a fad.
Are the pallet walls, Mohawks, and tattoos wrong? No. But often, when we’re searching for a church to call home, we look strictly at the programs they offer or the “cool factor” of the church and its members.
I encourage you to look a little deeper at what the church is teaching and how it’s equipping the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission. Church can be easy on the eye, so to speak, but ask, “How are they dealing with the heart?”
Consider these four things when seeking a church:
- Pray for discernment as you seek a church family.
- There are lots of places you can go to get a feel good message, but is the message being taught Scripturally sound?
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world and not on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
- Is the Bible seen as the sole authority of the church? There are many churches who teach things that are not in line with Scripture. Other leaders are “skimming” the Bible and not addressing the hard issues. Growth sometimes requires us being uncomfortable.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- How is the church equipping its body of believers to fulfill the Great Commission inside and outside the church walls? We, as a body of Christ, were never meant to keep the truth to ourselves. Are they pointing the lost and broken to the Redeemer?
Above all, don’t skip out on building community and growing in discipleship with a local church. Your young adult years are among the most important to not only be involved but actively serving within the church body. Don’t waste this beautiful season when God can greatly use your gifts and talents for His glory.
Sarah West is the Youth and College Counselor at her local pregnancy help center in Laurel, MS. She works directly with youth and college groups to educate them on the importance of healthy choices and their relationship with Christ. You can connect with Sarah on her blog at Heartskeeper and Twitter.