That seems like a legitimate question doesn’t it, “What ministries are you looking for in a church?” After all, most people looking for a church home are looking to see what kind of “ministries” a church offers. Does this church have a children’s ministry? a youth ministry? a college ministry? a singles ministry? a transportation ministry? The list of ministries people are looking for in a church could go on and on. But what if people are asking the wrong question? What if the church shouldn’t be in the business of “offering ministries” to church shoppers? Here are some things to consider…
1. The Effect of Consumerism
Consumerism has changed the way we think of the church. In most larger communities there are several congregations from which to choose and most people “shop” for a church home the way they shop for anything else. When people are considering whether or not to become a customer of a business, they ask questions like, “What services can your business offer me that your competition doesn’t offer?”
When shopping for a new church home, parents usually want to make sure there is a ministry for their children. Singles want a ministry that is catered to them. College students want a church that minsters specifically to those in their age group. And if a particular church can’t offer the ministries they are looking for, they’ll go down the street to another church.
Trying to compete, churches have become big businesses, creating, maintaining, and advertising various ministries to draw in church shoppers. “We’ll minister to your every need,” they shout to the community. And most people today think that’s the way it should be; but that’s because we have been more influenced by our consumer culture than Scripture.
2. You’re Asking the Wrong Questions
When looking for a church home, we should not be asking, “How will you minister to me and my family?” We should be asking, “How will you equip me and my family to minister to others?” You see, in addition to reaching the lost with the gospel, the church’s primary function is to “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
Unfortunately, we have bought into the lie that paid church staff are the “ministers” and that “ministry” is something that is done by paid ministers or corporately by “the church.” But the biblical truth is that every member of a congregation should be a minister and everything we do every day of our lives should be ministry (see Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; Galatians 6:10).
Just as a few examples of what I’m talking about: a Christian stay-at-home mom is a minister and one of her ministries is taking care of her children, her husband, and her home (Titus 2:4-5). A Christian sanitation worker is a minister and reaching his co-workers with the gospel is one of his ministries. A Christian college student, on the campus of a state college, is a minister and being a representative for truth and godliness is one of her ministries.
That doesn’t mean there is no place for churches to have paid staff (see 1 Corinthians 9) or that the church shouldn’t minister to people corporately. But as individual Christians, we need to stop looking for ministers and churches to minister to us and start looking to become ministers so we can minister to others.
3. So What Should I Look for in a Church Home?
Biblically speaking, a great church is not necessarily one that offers all kinds of ministries to serve you, but one that equips you to go out during the week and do all kinds of ministry. So how does a church equip you in this way?
According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Ephesians 4:12-16 here are a few ways the church should be using God’s word to “equip” members:
- Teaching – Churches should focus the majority of their efforts on “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). They need to be teaching sound doctrine, so members are not “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Look for a church home where you will be taught God’s word.
- Reproof – A church that does not reprove you when you are in sin is not a church that is equipping you. Look for a church where you are made aware of YOUR sins and not just the sins of everyone else.
- Correction – Not only do we need someone to tell us when we’ve gone wrong, we need people who will invest in our lives to help us get back on track. Look for a church with shepherds (elders) and members who will lovingly and gently correct and guide you back to the straight and narrow path.
- Training – It’s not enough to just learn what we should be doing, we need to be “doers of the word” (James 1:19-27). Look for a church where people are working and ask, “Can you train me to help?”
- Love – A healthy congregation is one in which “each part is working properly” and when this happens, it “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Look for a church that will build you up in love.
Remember, you’ll never find a perfect congregation, but I’m certain – if you are willing to do the work – you can find one that will help equip you “for the work of ministry.”
I love you and God loves you,