Thursday, October 23, 2008

Which church?

When a newly married couple walks down the aisle and heads out of church for their honeymoon, one unresolved question often lingers: “Are we going back to the same church after the honeymoon?”

If he went to Church A and she went to Church B before the wedding, where do they go afterward?

Michael and Shari weren’t sure.

Michael grew up in the Catholic church. Shari attended a couple of different denominational churches over the years. After their wedding, Michael and Shari bounced back and forth between their two churches, couldn’t decide which one to call home, and eventually stopped going altogether.

Things changed after their first child was born.

“I can remember it to this day,” says Shari. “It was a Sunday morning. Our son was a baby and I just felt God calling me to go. So I told Mike, ‘We need to go to church,’ and he said okay.”

Many factors conspired against Mike and Shari finding a common church home, but “We prayed it out and worked on it…together,” she says. They’re now active members of a Free Methodist Church.

There’s no one right way to answer the “which church?” question.

For Jon and Linda, the answer has changed over the years. Right now, Jon and Linda and their three children attend her church on Sunday mornings. That way, the whole family can worship together. But on Saturday evenings, Jon often attends his church. It’s the best of both worlds, Jon says.

If you or your spouse have had a bad church experience in the past, you’re not alone.

Approximately 31 million Americans say they are Christians and have made a faith commitment to Jesus Christ, and say that commitment is still important to them, but they have struggled with faith or relational issues and quit going to church.

Typical reasons for a bad church experience:

A. Individuals feel like they didn’t “fit in” at the church they attended.
B. They felt confused or overwhelmed by church expectations.
C. They felt rejected, humiliated, or hurt by someone in church.

Don’t forget—the apostles of Jesus Christ had some bad church experiences, too. The apostle Paul was maligned by several imposters who infiltrated churches he had started. Even in his old age, the beloved apostle John reported that certain people were “gossiping maliciously about us” (3 John 10 NIV).

Thankfully, the U.S. is blessed with lots of churches—more than 315,000 at last count. If you have had a couple of bad church experiences, it’s not time to write off every church.

The bottom line: you and your family may want to explore several options until you find what seems best for you.

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