Before you can accurately determine what sort of service or congregation is a good way for you to worship God, you need to understand where you stand on a few issues. These are not the only things that separate one church from another, but they are some of the more noticeable differences with regard to worship, and knowing how you respond to them could make your church search much smoother.
You do not have to have a firm and fast opinion on all of these things, but you need to have thought through them in order to know which of them matters to you in your worship of God. It is important to remember that there are Bible-believing Christians who stand on either side of the following discussions.
- Baptism – Baptism is an act of obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ wherein the person has water either put onto them or they are submerged. There are two separate issues that arise when discussing baptism.
First, is baptism necessary for salvation, or can a believer who dies without being baptized live with God for eternity?
Second, does baptism have to come after a person becomes a Christian, or can a valid baptism occur for an infant or young child?
- Communion – Communion is the sharing of bread and juice/wine as a representation of the last supper that Christ shared with His disciples.
Can anyone join in this event, or do you have to be a Christian, or do you have to be a member of that particular church?
- Feetwashing – Feetwashing is a display of service in which a believer literally washes the feet of another. It represents Christ’s service to humanity through assuming human form and dwelling among us.
Is this an essential practice within the church, or is this a biblical example that believers are not required to follow?
- Creeds – A creed is a statement of your faith that lays out the basis of most of your beliefs. Some churches choose not to employ creeds because they believe that it could be viewed as superseding the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice.
Do you see creeds as a beneficial reminder of the basics of your faith, or do you see them as an unnecessary inclusion in worship services?
- Instrumentation – Churches vary greatly on what instruments they use during worship. Some believe that God is best glorified through a cappella worship, while others will employ organ and piano music. Still others use a full range of instruments during worship.
Are there certain instruments that you expect to be present during worship?
Are there certain instruments that you expect to be avoided during worship?
The following are not items that generally impact the nature of the worship services, but pertain to specific teachings of churches. You might be comfortable attending a service where you disagree with one of these points, or you might not. For that reason, they are also important to consider.
- Predestination – This refers to the belief that Christians, prior to their lives, are chosen by God and that they have always been destined for salvation. The alternative view is that God has given each person the choice to accept or reject him.
Do you believe that you were destined by God to be a Christian, or do you believe that you chose to be a Christian?
- Women in Ministry – There are varying degrees of support for women in ministry within churches. (You might be surprised to know who holds which views.)
Are you comfortable with a woman as a lead pastor, as an associate pastor, as a congregational leader, or are you uncomfortable with a woman in any of these positions?
As you do the research that I will suggest next week, you may come across some other beliefs of a church that raise questions about your own stance on a topic, or you may see something that troubles you greatly. When you recognize that response to something that you have read, take note of it, as it indicates something that matters to you as you engage in worship of God.
May you not remain uninformed when it comes to your own beliefs,