Q: My husband and I are tired of trying to find a truly biblical church where Jesus is exalted and the Holy Spirit is free to move. Every time we try a church it’s either dead, man-centered, or scripturally “off.” Should we keep going and try to fit in without being dulled-down by nominal “one-size-fits-all” preaching, or what would you suggest?
A: This is not the first time I have been asked this question. American Christians seem to be struggling all over the United States as to which church they should attend. They want to be obedient to Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” It is clear that at this time in history Christians need each other as the day of Jesus’ coming approaches and the battle between good and evil is intensifying in the world.
First I want to remind you that believers make up the church, and whenever they are gathered together in Spirit and truth, they constitute an assembly. The Lord has established the Body for the edification of each member, to build up, challenge, exhort, and encourage each member in their walk. When this Scripture was written, the church was not organized like it is nowadays with its various edifices. It met in such places as homes, caves, forests and fields. Preaching could last for hours as in the case of Eutychus in Acts 20:9. He is the one who fell asleep in a loft because Paul was long at preaching. He fell out of the three-story loft, was killed and had to be raised from the dead. In countries where there is great persecution, believers must meet in secret behind closed doors or in unlikely locations. Some are in prison and isolation and are unable to meet with other Christians to keep them centered and focused. In such cases, Christians must depend on the presence and teaching of the Holy Spirit for inspiration and spiritual growth. As you can imagine this type of environment produces a whole different walk for believers.
The church in America is still afforded the opportunity to meet without much fear of persecution, but we are faced with another type of challenge. Many churches are dead and have no life, while others are heretical, feeding poisonous doctrines of devils to unsuspecting people, and there are those who have a form of religion, but lack true power. As a result, Christians walk away frustrated because they are left in a worse state than they were before they entered the doors of the church, leaving them with leanness in their spirit because they know the “water cisterns” are broken and contain stagnant, contaminated water that will eventually pollute them if they stick around, or the life they have in Christ is being sucked out of them because the spirit is lifeless or wrong in a church. It is for this very reason that in the past when I was asked as to what church a person could attend, I was reluctant to send them anywhere because in some cases the church proved to be a very dangerous place to send a new Christian or those who were vulnerable.
Regardless of the status of some churches in America, there are good churches out there where the pastor still preaches the Word of God and you can sense the presence of His Spirit. My suggestion is that you do not put any expectation in finding a good church because you will be disappointed; rather, direct your expectation towards God to lead you to a trustworthy Body, where you will be edified because the leadership has a love for God and His Word, is evangelistic, and the Body has a true love for one another. As you wait upon the Lord for His direction in this matter, do not forget to encourage your spouse as well as yourself in your Christian walk, as if you are isolated from everything but the Lord. Read and study your Bible, read Christian authors who are sound in doctrine and will encourage you personally in your spiritual growth, as you firmly develop your own life of worship. Ask the Lord to bring in your path like-minded believers who could exhort you in your life and maybe be instrumental in you finding a church. If you find that you are in a lean time in your Christian life because you cannot find a place of worship, make sure you first establish a personal sanctuary for yourself and then you can set up a place of worship for you and your family, knowing if the Spirit is present, that like Mary in Luke 10:41, you have chosen that good part of true religion.