Have your ever “compared apples to apples” when making a critical decision for your family-perhaps buying a car, accepting a job off er, or purchasing a home? Well, “comparing apples to apples” isn’t quite as simple when you are choosing a church home. Maybe it never occurred to you that apples actually reflect quite a vast array of diversity. Actually comparing apples to apples can be an extremely detailed process-but in the case of choosing a church; it’s worth it, if the study leads to practical insight and wise choices.
There are 7,500 varieties of apples in the world-just as there are seemingly thousands of different types of “Christian” churches-which could prove for quite an exhausting study! So, let’s simplify for a moment, and let’s focus on the six core attributes of apples that are symbolic of six qualities you should consider when you are choosing a church.
Consider the Taste
Have you ever noticed that tastes vary from person to person? Similarly, taste can sometimes be deceiving. Not everything that tastes good is good for you, and not everything that taste bad is bad for you. And, tastes can even change over time. It’s one thing to let “taste” be your guide when choosing an apple, but choosing a church simply because of taste can prove to be dangerous. The question is “taste” or “truth?” A true church will always have a taste for the Word of God-the Bible. Sometimes the Bible is encouraging to the heart-sweet to the taste. Other times the Bible tells it like it is and actually penetrates the heart with some discomfort-or distaste. Yet, always, the Bible is truthful, life changing, and intended to transform our lives for the better! Choose a church that has a taste for the Bible where messages are more than funny stories or humorous interpretation of current events. Messages should bring Bible truth into practical light for your daily life.
Consider the Texture
Bite into an apple and you will immediately get a feel for its texture. Some apples are soft; some are firm-some smooth and some course. Texture describes the feel and essential substance of an organization. The texture of a church could be described as its way of determining truth and functioning by it. Some churches are hard or rigid-seemingly losing touch with true love and grace.
Many churches have become “soft” in an effort to appeal to everybody all the time. At Lighthouse Baptist Church, the Bible is our foundation, and we’re working hard at balancing our texture as a church! At Lighthouse Baptist you’ll find a family that loves you just as you are; but you’ll also find a teaching philosophy that encourages you to let God change you, grow you, and “improve you” through His truth! There is no such thing as a perfect church, including Lighthouse Baptist. Yet every person can be greatly helped by finding a church where there is a commitment to the Bible and a texture of acceptance and grace.
Consider the Variety
Apples come in many varieties. Spiritual needs vary widely from age group to age group-life-stage to life-stage. Children have diff erent needs than teens. Singles have different needs than couples. Seniors have different needs than young families. On and on the list could go. The color of a church could refer to how well the church is attempting to meet the diverse spiritual needs of people! At Lighthouse Baptist, you will find a vast array of ministries to meet the unique spiritual needs of your family. From the nurseries, to the children’s programs, to the youth ministry, to the couples classes, to the other adult ministries chances are that every one in your family will find the “perfect fit!” For the kids, church is both fun and educational. For the teens, church is practical and “makes sense” of life’s confusion. For adults, church is friendly, encouraging, and transformational!
Not only are there a variety of ministries to serve your family, but a church that follows Christ and His Word will have a different taste and variety than other social gatherings. We believe that knowing Christ makes a person new and of a different variety-not conformed to our culture’s demands. At Lighthouse Baptist Church, you will be surprised by the variety you sense from your first visit! You will find that church is delightfully different than probably anything else you’ve ever experienced!
Consider the Complexity
To someone who isn’t a horticultural expert-an apple is an apple! Even so, to someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time studying religion-a church is a church. An apple is extremely complex – each one holding about 80 calories, made up of 25% air, a great source of fiber, without sodium, fat, or cholesterol. The complexity of a church could be compared to “what it believes!” The single most important question you can ask about a church is “what does this church believe?” Many churches have complex doctrinal statements that originated from one man’s dream, one lady’s “vision”, or even centuries of meaningless traditions. On the surface, a church might look like all the rest, but the deeper question is, “What will this church be teaching your children?” At Lighthouse Baptist, the answer to this question is simple-the Bible-nothing more, nothing less. The central figure of our church is Jesus Christ, the central message is the Bible, and central purpose is to apply God’s truth to our every day lives. We have pastors and teachers who constantly teach the Bible and lead us toward Christ.
They know that Christ’s passion and love for you is real. In Luke 19:10 Jesus said of himself, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became flesh, lived a perfectly sinless life on this earth, and shed his blood for the redemption, or forgiveness of this world. These complex truths can change anyone’s life when he places his faith in Christ alone to forgive him and make him one of His sons.
Consider the Size
The largest apple ever picked weighed a whopping 3 pounds! Yet, its size didn’t mean it was the tastiest, most nutritional or even the prettiest. Bigger doesn’t always mean better and smaller doesn’t always mean friendlier! The key question in regards to the size of an apple is this-“is it growing?” Once an apple stops growing, its life-cycle is quickly coming to an end, and its days of nutritional value are numbered. Likewise, the question of a church’s size should be considered in terms of growth. A church is a living body-a family-of believers. In that healthy body, where nutrition is strong, there will be growth.
Consider the Source
Before you picked it from the produce pile at the supermarket, that apple came from a tree. That tree had roots, years of growth, and a system of reproducing healthy apples. Even so, when choosing a church, you must consider the tree, the roots where it came from. Many churches trace their roots to philosophy, opinion, tradition, emotional experience, and even man-centered agendas. A few churches trace their roots directly to Jesus Christ-God’s Son-and his message of love and redemption to the world. These churches focus on relationship not religion. Religion binds men to pointless traditions. Relationship brings men into a living, dynamic knowledge of a great and loving God.
Religion holds people hostage to performance to “please God.” Relationship frees men from failures to be able to love God with a pure heart and clear conscience. Many people at Lighthouse Baptist Church are involved in serving the Lord-not the church-because His grace has developed their lives to that point. Others are simply participating in worship with us, and they are loved and encouraged to grow as God leads them. The key is developing a relationship with God through His Word. Let Lighthouse Baptist help you discover the difference between religion and relationship! So, comparing apples to apples is probably more complex than you at first realized. Don’t give up! It’s worth the study! You need a church that will help you know God. Your family needs a church that will teach truth. If you don’t already have a Bible-teaching church, stop by and visit with us soon, and find out that we have a bushel of ways to encourage and help your life!
-Author Unknown (source: Antelope Valley Community Connection)