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What should people look for when choosing a church?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on January 7, 2006

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Photo of David Vance

“I would think the church’s values should agree with their own moral code. It should have an open-minded environment and take an inclusive approach to spirituality.”

Photo of Nkemdirim Ezekwe

“A good priest, preacher or minister and good parishioners. It should have a familylike community.”

Photo of Brian Adams

“A church that focuses on acceptance rather than exclusion.”

Photo of Vanessa Rupp

“I would look for unity in the congregation and in the church’s beliefs.”

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Comments

beer_N_cigarettes 8 years, 8 months ago

one out of four.... only Mr. Vance refers to values and morals within the context of church. If this questioned were asked of say 1,000 people how many of them would mention values and morals in the context of church?

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mr_sassy_pantsss 8 years, 8 months ago

Marion-- good job. Phelps is a disgrace to the human race... human, animal, mammal, insect, et al.

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jonas 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, in my case I had to find the one that was suitably secret from the townsfolk, that had a large stock of already captured sacrificial goats, and that let me bring in my own robe and mask, cuz I'm not buying another one.

And, of course, hot women.

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years, 8 months ago

If the pastor owns the nicest car in the church parking lot it's safe to assume he'll want your money more than your prayers. If he encourages tithing, steer clear. Anyone with bible knowledge knows that tithing was eliminated as part of the old Mosaic Law and is no longer required.

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bankboy119 8 years, 8 months ago

Kam Fong, you obviously need to go back through and reread your bible kid. Tithing was not eliminated in the Old Testament. Read Matthew 5:17-19 and Hebrews 5-7.

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killjoy 8 years, 8 months ago

I think e_m said it best. Church can be just as good a place as funerals to find hot babes.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

Churches: when looking for one, they usually have a cross on them or sometimes even a bell tower. I like the old stone churches myself. Now if I could get all the way to Italy, I'd choose one of those with a big rose window, gargoyles, and flying buttresses.

e_m and killjoy, The "hot babes" are taken to the cry room or the nursery. Usually after a snack and a diaper change, they are cooled down sufficiently to come back in.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

e_m, that was one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. Since "foot binding" used to be the rage, I'm going to assume that this actually happens somewhere?!? Please don't tell me. I really don't want to know! BARF!

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Kookamooka 8 years, 8 months ago

I can't afford God anymore. He's sooooo expensive these days. And UGH!!! those services with the clapping and the hugging and boring sermons that last forever!! And that crazy story about Jesus and all the weird stuff that happens to him, in the desert and on mountians and the blood and the gore and the "miraculously" impregnated teenager then there are the people who have to 'interpret" it for you because it's all crazy talk. And the monotone prayers...and the money,money, money. And the getting out of bed on a Sunday... If it weren't for the music..it wouldn't be worth it. All ye Praise Good Church Choirs. (and don't forget to support them financially)

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GreenEyedBlues 8 years, 8 months ago

Good call, Kam_Fong: One must have a very guilty conscience to get so excited about tithing. Purchasing one's salvation seems calculated and NOT in God's plan. If your god wants you to dump your hard-earned change into a wicker basket every Sunday, yours is a false religion. I said it.

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enochville 8 years, 8 months ago

I sometimes marvel how different my thinking is than nearly all of the comments today. Most of which are just playing around, but even the serious comments.

"I would think the church's values should agree with their own moral code. It should have an open-minded environment and take an inclusive approach to spirituality."

  • David Vance, architect, Lawrence

For David, his moral code comes first and then he finds a church that agrees with him. That is reasonable, but not at all in line with my thinking.

"A good priest, preacher or minister and good parishioners. It should have a familylike community."

  • Nkemdirim Ezekwe, desk assistant, Lawrence

For Nkemdirim, the community is most important. Again, this makes sense, but is not my approach.

"A church that focuses on acceptance rather than exclusion."

  • Brian Adams, software engineer, Kansas City, Mo.

Brian, is looking for a church that is accepting of people the way they are. I understand that, but not my top priority.

"I would look for unity in the congregation and in the church's beliefs."

  • Vanessa Rupp, receptionist, Hays

I like this a lot, but still not enough for me.

I'll be back with my answer.

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beatrice 8 years, 8 months ago

Make sure that it agrees with your ideas on who God will and who God will not let into Heaven. You wouldn't want to go to a church and end up in Heaven with the wrong sort of people, now would you?

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

I praise God that I have found the church for me. Like enochville said, it was not one that fit my moral code. It was a church that preached the moral code taught by Jesus Christ. I belonged for many years to a church full of people who thought that reading the Bible was silly. I finally smartened up and found a church where reading the Bible was de riguer. Not only reading it but studying the Bible. A church where people cared about each other, a church where people cared enough to pray earnestly for one another. I have been involved in the life of that church for nearly 33 years now. It has not always been smooth sailing. We have had problems, but we overcame them and we grow spiritually. And as for Kam Fong and tithing. How the heck do you pay the gas bill, the electrical bill and the salaries of the staff and equipment? I tithe and thank God that I can. My church family means more to me than anything else in this world. I KNOW that I am cared for there and prayed for. All the joking around today does not bother me. It is all in fun. but there are those who seriously dislike (is hate too strong a word) the church. Could it be guilt? You should never knock something until you have seriously tried it. Read a book or two. May I recommend The Case for Christ by Lee Sobel. Excellent. ceallach gave it to me and I thank you, dear lady. enocville - I am waiting.

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Escapee 8 years, 8 months ago

As a recent escapee from Lawrence and its omnipotent, know-it-all population of intelligentsia wannabes...I find this group of answers to be most telling of what a vat of insecure people reside in this commune. They make fun of others' religions...yet profess to be in complete agreement with anything -- politcal, religious, or otherwise -- that buys their 'well-thought-out' (COUGH, COUGH) philosophies in life. 'Self-serving' would be descriptive from the tip of the iceberg. You people need to put on your shoes and walk around the block. Even in Lawrence you can find better answers than this....

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years, 8 months ago

And as for Kam Fong and tithing. How the heck do you pay the gas bill, the electrical bill and the salaries of the staff and equipment? I tithe and thank God that I can.

You should be able to donate what you can...and it should be anonymous. If the preacher is telling you how much to donate, odds are he lives in a very nice home and doesn't even have a secular job. You bought it! People shouldn't have to pay to pray. Tithing went out with the Mosaic Law.

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

No it did not. And my tithe is considered a donation by the government of Canada. I get a tax credit for my donation. It could be anonymous, if I so chose, but I am not ashamed of what I give. A tithe by it's very name is to be a tenth of what I earn. That is really not a lot. If I earn very little, I donate very little. We do not pay to pray, Kam Fong, we pay the man who teaches us God's Word each week. And in case you may not know, our Pastor works very hard. I know because I worked in the church office for six months and I worked very hard also. There are many people in a large church who need care and that is part of a Pastor's job. Also, the preacher does not tell us how much to donate other than explaining what a tithe is. And that is Biblical. Read the passages quoted by bank boy

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grubesteak 8 years, 8 months ago

If you've got a problem with Fred Phelps (as everyone does) you just have to ignore him. He and his group are a troll, feeding off the attention he receives when people get upset at his crazy, outlandish stunts.

Kind of like how Marion is a troll as well.

This link should help you battle trolls in the future:

http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm#WIAT

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enochville 8 years, 8 months ago

To me it is all about God. The ultimate goal in my life is to become one with God, in thought, word, and deed. I seek to know and then do His will. The original question asked about "churches" so it seems to be assuming that the seeker already accepts Christ. If that be the case then one should study the Bible and learn the characteristics of the original church. Christ designed the church with the purpose of leading people to come unto Him.

In looking for a church, one should investigate the various churches, study them out in your own mind, and then pray and ask God where He would have you go to learn more about Him and how to become united with Him.

I agree with Ms canada, that we should learn to conform our values and morals to God's, not find a church that preaches a God that conforms to our liking. God loves us all unconditionally. However, he has given us commands with blessings attached that are designed to lead us to peace in this life and eternal life in the one to come. A church that does not teach us those commandments is not helping us.

A good, loving, and united community is a natural out growth of a true church whose members are striving to be one with God.

Tithing, means one-tenth, and that commandment did not die with the Mosaic law. In our church, there is no paid ministry, so no one is getting rich off of it. Our congregation leader, the Bishop, as well as everyone in the congregation voluntarily accept responsibilities that they perform regardless of the careers they hold. In addition each member visits the houses of other members to discuss the gospel and assist with any needs that family may have. We are all encouraged to read the scriptures every day as well as offer family and personal prayers every day. Families are encouraged to spend an evening together once a week to discuss the gospel and have fun together.

Each member is invited about once a year to prepare a 10-minute speech on a gospel principle to be shared during Sunday meetings. We usually have about three of those during a meeting; the Bishop doesn't give sermons. After that meeting in which we also partake of the Lord's Supper, nearly everyone stays for Sunday School; there is an adult class as well as classes for the children. This year we are studying the Old Testament. And after that class, we have one more meeting in which all the women get together in one room and all the men in the other and study the teachings of the modern prophets.

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enochville 8 years, 8 months ago

Oh, I meant to say this about tithing. Tithing is handed directly to the Bishop of one of his counsellors in a sealed envelope and some discreet moment between meetings.

Everyone of my denomination's churches throughout the world operate just as I described above. So, when I move to a new area, I transfer my membership record to the congregation that serves my new neighborhood and start attending that congregation. Although those members don't know you, you are instantly accepted as family. In fact, they will usually send out some members to help you move in if you want. Any new face is greeted profusely. It is very difficult to go unnoticed at church.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

OK, back to church: Personally, I don't see church as the only way to Heaven. I don't think the NT equates church with the Kingdom of Heaven. I believe somewhere it is said by Jesus "Wherever two or more gather in my name, I shall be there also." (Or something like that.) I'm no expert on the Bible, but I really don't think that church is a requirement for salvation. IMHO, If you have a church that you like and are uplifted by it, then go. If you don't, then don't. I attend "church" most nights as I'm tucking my girls into bed and we say our prayers. I attend "church" when we are gathered around a table of food and we pray. I believe that belief is enough. People shouldn't be judged for not going to church (they may have their reasons). Also, although I'm Christian, I have many athiest friends that I gladly welcome into my home. I do not welcome them in to argue.

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italianprincess 8 years, 8 months ago

Fred has major problems and he will be judged when his day or night come when he goes before God.

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

enochville - your comments were well worth the wait and right on the mark. Thank you. The main point in your thoughts comes across loud and clear. And that is LOVE. The love of God for His creation, the love of His children for Him and the love of His children for one another. I think that is one thing that I love most about being a part of God's family. The love that we have for one another. That kind of love is a very strong bond. Again, I agree with enochville about moving to a different area and feeling welcome. When I came to Lawrence in Nov. I attended worship services in a church and I received many very warm greetings and felt most welcome. And I met Christian people in your city with whom I developed an instant rapport. I don't know where else one would find that kind of relationship.

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

sunflower sue - I think you are right when you say that church cannot be equated with heaven. And just because a person goes to church does not mean that they will go to heaven when they pass on. And just because they don't go to church does not mean that they won't. It is what is in the heart and the relationship that one has with Jesus that counts. And when you pray with your girls, (2 or 3 together) He is indeed there with you and He hears you.

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Purell 8 years, 8 months ago

Marion,

Two words: get help. You aren't just battling the lunitic fringe, you're part of it. Do you notice what happens everytime you post on LJW? You get ridiculed and laughed at. To keep coming back, you must be a desperate for attention. You've lived a very shallow life to continue to seek validation from strangers. I fell sorry for you. Why don't you end the pain and stay on the little board you're trying to create. I also can't imagine going to Kelly's bar to try to meet women at age 54.

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Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years, 8 months ago

Don't let your pastor fool you into tithing (and making him a wealthy man). Regarding Jesus' approval of Pharisee tithing -- Matthew 23:23 reads: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law -- justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (See also Luke 11:42) Some people offer this scripture as a proof text that Jesus taught tithing and that it is thus still required of Christians. However, scripture must always be read in context. To properly understand Matthew 23:23 (and Luke 11:42), one must understand the context of to whom Jesus was speaking. He was not speaking to Christians, but instead to non-Christian Jews. Such Jews, who have not accepted Christ's free gift of salvation, are still obligated to obey the entire Mosaic Law, and are thus still required to tithe, as Jesus stated. In this verse, Jesus used tithing as an example of a Law that these hypocritical Jewish leaders were faithful to keep, while neglecting the underlying principles of the law. He could have chosen a different example of the Law, such as: "...you faithfully sacrifice the required burnt offerings. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law..." and the meaning of this passage would have been the same. In any case, his words were neither directed toward nor intended for Christians.

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kcwarpony 8 years, 8 months ago

Actually, traditional Indians don't bother with the middle man, we talk directly to the Creator.

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enochville 8 years, 8 months ago

Kam_Fong: If you really want to live as the early Christians did, you would "have all things in common" with the other Christians, so that there would be no rich and no poor. It was a holy form of communism. The members would give all that they have to the apostles and then the apostles would divide out the properties to each family according to their needs and so that they would have the supplies they needed for their professions.

I believe that in conjunction with the death of the apostles, Christ's true church was taken from the earth as well as the authority to perform the sacraments. That authority and church were restored to the earth again in the 1800's. The members were again required to live "having all things in common". Unfortunately, due to selfishness and lack of faith, the members were not able to live this way for long. The Lord in his mercy gave us again the lesser law of tithing until such time that we are ready to live the higher law again.

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Daniel Speicher 8 years, 8 months ago

As for what I look for in a church, enoch hit it on the head... Values that are unwaivering in their alignment with what scripture teaches. Their dogma has to be foundational and their doctrine must be reasonable. But, there are a few churches out there like that. So, what else is there? I like a church that is sincerely concerned about the community in which it lives (both local and international.) I like a church who is passionate about what they teach. I like a church who has a pastoral staff and congregation who loves everyone who comes in the door (regardless of where they are at in their walk at that time.)

As for tithing... It didn't go by the wayside with the Mosaic Law. It is still a command that God wants us to follow. You, Kam, misread the context of Matt. 23. To read it in context, you must go beyond that scripture to where the event starts...

"1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: 'The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses...'" Matt. 23:1-2

He read the seven woes TO his disciples and the crowds. Some of his disciples, Kam, were not Jews. But, yet, the Bible says nothing about them being excluded from this message. Although he certainly was talking to the Jews bound under the Mosaic Law, he was also talking to his disciples (both Jew and Gentile) and the future founders and propagators of his church. Tithing is still important. Although, I will be the first to admit that there are those out there who misuse funds given to their churches. However, they are robbing the Kingdom of money that could be used for good. God will judge these men and women.

As far as going to church... Going to church is not a pre-requisite to get into the pearly gates. That is true. But, I will be honest... It is tough for me to imagine coming out of the hard times in my life as unscathed as I did without the encouragement and prayers of those who loved me within my church. It is tough for me to imagine that I would have remained as near to God without the weekly reminder to do so. And, even now, when things, for the most part, are looking on the "up and up", it is tough for me to imagine that my spiritual growth would be so natural had I not been a part of a local church.

However, once again, the Bible makes it clear that to be SAVED you must confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. But, if you really want to get deeper in your faith... If you really want to know God more I believe the right church can really accelerate that learning. Anyway, hope you all had a really happy holiday season! It has been GREAT being back in Lawrence for a month! Thanks for making this town what it is, folks.

--Danny Speicher

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Daniel Speicher 8 years, 8 months ago

Enoch, that's a good point as well... However, even in the disciple's days you see them setting up a system in which the idea of giving to the poor and tithing could be properly distributed through the use of deacons in the newly formed church.

--Danny Speicher

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

Danny - wonerful post, that's all I want to say. You said it all. Thank you, thank you.

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beer_N_cigarettes 8 years, 8 months ago

if anyone is still reading this at this hour: give that RCT forum a try, its a hoot.

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sunflower_sue 8 years, 8 months ago

Danny, I think that you are probably correct in your summation that w/out church, you would be less of what you are. I have to admit, that while I do not go to church nor think that it is the pathway to Heaven, I WAS brought up in the church. This is my inner struggle as an adult. Waging my war with the church against being able to teach my children everything that they need to know to make their own decisions. I try my best to do right by them. They believe now and I hope they continue to do so. If at some point they falter, I'll have myself to blame I suppose. I think you spoke well in your post. Who knows, maybe one day I'll get past my deep seeded issues and haul myself into a church. In the meantime, I'll do as I do and just keep praying that God hears our little voices as well. Thanks for the thought provoking post, Danny.

Good night, all! (Hope you're snug up there Ms_C. We had 60*F today!)

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l_eustacy 8 years, 8 months ago

Marion, The regional media does a great a great job of ignoring Phelps. Do you understand why that is? He craves the exposure; it just fans their flames. Why do you think he's traveling outside the area. Now get a clue and stop helping him!

If you have so much time and energy on your hands, why don't you go to college and learn how to use it appropriately.

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

A bit of levity for Jan 8 and for bearded gnome, just for you. A MAN IN A PENGUIN SUIT? A German train driver was left red-faced when he pulled on the emergency brake to avoid hitting a man wearing a tuxedo lying face-down on the tracks. On closer inspection, the obstacle turned out to be a giant toy penguin. Now, b g, how is that for a good subject. he he!!

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ms_canada 8 years, 8 months ago

Well, I said it was for Jan 8, but in reality it is still Jan 7 here in the west. he he I cheated!!!

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Ember 8 years, 8 months ago

My god carries a hammer and your savior was nailed to a cross. Any questions?

And as to what I look for in a church?

The exit sign.

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bearded_gnome 8 years, 8 months ago

too late for that OMB already gone!

thanks

gnome

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killjoy 8 years, 8 months ago

Don't think anyone will miss him

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bearded_gnome 8 years, 8 months ago

if any one still has a shred of interest in the ORIGINAL OTS QUESTION/TOPIC! here's a very useful link for very current info on cults, false christian teachings (i.e. the false prosperity gospel/holy laughter movement etc.): www.equip.org> you can look up Pat Robertson for example, now, there's a false prophet. or, if you are wishing to learn more about an alledgedly christian group or organization.

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