Once upon a time there was a little girl. This little girl loved God so much. She had a bible with pretty pictures. She loved to read the stories in it. The one about Jesus beating the devil in the wilderness was her favorite. She read it over and over.
She loved to pray too. Every night, after she tucked in her stuffed animals, she talked to God.
That little girl started growing up. She read God’s story less. She talked to him less. She followed him less, until one day she didn’t remember him at all.
Days and months went on and the darkness slowly consumed her.
Then one day the girl opened a bible, a real one this time. She started reading its pages. The stories came to life. The words were like drops of water to her dry heart.
She read more and more. She prayed more and more. But she still needed more. She needed a church.
Her grandparents took her to a little church out in the country. There were about thirty people and only two of them were under fifty. There was no youth group. There was no band. There was no Sunday school class.
That girl, now a teenager, learned to walk in that place, with those people. She learned to walk like Jesus. She learned to talk like Jesus. She was saved. She was saved because there might not have been youth groups, bands or classes, but there was Jesus. There was salvation. There was healing.
Twenty-five years later, sometimes I forget the kind of church where I met Jesus. I fight the urge to make it about other stuff. I try to make it about manufactured hype, about the worship service, the feelings or about the programs.
But it’s not.
Things like hype, the kind of services, feelings and programs aren’t what it’s about because those things aren’t even in the bible.
The bible does say that church is about:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. Mt. 22:36-38
A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Mt. 22:39-40
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Eph. 4:11-12
So if you are searching for a church, like I was, don’t make the same mistake I do. Don’t make it about the manufactured hype, the worship service, the feelings or the programs.
You should search, measure and test a church, but not with your idea of what a good church feels like. Do it by what the eternal word of God says that a good church is.