Looking for the Perfect Church

There is one question all Christians ask, and you may even be asking it right now: What church should I be apart of? As you thought about this, or are thinking about it, I am sure many questions have run through your head. Questions like:

  • Should I be apart of the church that has a lot of activities and fun things for my kids to do?
  • How about the one that perfectly fits my theological niche?
  • Or should I go to the one with the dynamic worship service?
  • How about the one in which I always feel comfortable?
  • Or is it the popular one in town that I should attend?

These are all questions that have been asked by Christians at one time or another when looking for a church. So which is it? Which church should we attend?

What should you be looking for in a church?

I believe the perfect church, and the one we should look to attend, is one that is primarily focused on benefiting others. Now I know that may sound strange to say that we should look for a church that is primarily focused on benefiting others, but if you think about it for a minute, that is the church that will be best for us.

Here is what I mean. If we are all willing to focus on the benefit of others, then that means we are all going to receive some of that benefit. As we use our God-given spiritual gifts, we help others grow. As others in the church use their God-given spiritual gifts, they will help us grow.

When we all focus on benefiting others, we all are benefited.

We all end up growing, maturing in our faith. As well as our community becomes a witness to the watching world.

But on the other hand, if we are only focused on what benefits us, then others around us won’t be benefited, and consequentially no one around us is going to grow, and neither are we.

Now, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us struggle with pouring ourselves out for others. We struggle with seeking the benefit of others over our own. Why is that?

Why do we most often do what benefit us?

I believe we focus on our own benefit to the exclusion of others because we have a sinful desire to be at the center. A sinful desire that is spurred on by American individualism. We may not realize it, but, as Americans, we are very individualistic. I believe American Author, Adam Johnson, captures this sentiment well when he says,

“In America, the stories we tell ourselves and we tell each other in fiction have to do with individualism. Every person here is the center of his or her own story. And our job as people and as characters is to find our own motivations and desires, to overcome conflicts and obstacles toward defining ourselves so that we grow and change” [1].

Did you catch what he said? “Every person here is the center of his or her own story.” Most Americans have bought into that idea, so much so that we all believe everything revolves around us.

But consider what Jesus says about us in Matthew 5:14,

““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Mt 5:14)

Jesus tells us we are the light of the world. We are a city set on a hill. If you think about it, a city is not made up of one person. A city is made up of a gathering of people, who have banded together for a particular purpose. Christians are likened to a city because we have all banded together for the purpose of following and glorifying Christ (or at least we should be). As a city we are supposed to shine our light to the watching world for Christ.

We can’t, however, shine our light to the world, if we center everything on ourselves. Instead, a church, whose individual members are centered on themselves, produce discouraged, uncomforted, self-centered, immature believers, rather than a brightly shining light. The result is an unattractive community no one wants to join.

How do we change?

How do we make sure we are a city brightly shining our light to the world? As we have already said, by doing what benefits others. The only way we are going to consistently do what benefits others is to apply the biblical idea of love. It’s love that allows us to sacrifice our own desires and benefits for others. It’s love that allows us to be a growing, thriving, encouraging, and comforting community that is shining as a light into this dark world.

What if we are having trouble loving?

If we are having trouble loving, we need to meditate on the gospel. The gospel message tells us that Jesus loves us so much that He left His heavenly home, became a man, faced the difficulties of this sinful world, was persecuted, and ultimately nailed to the cross. But things didn’t end there. While He hung on the cross in physical agony, dying, the Father’s wrath was poured out on Him, not because He deserved it, but because we deserve it. Jesus hung in our place, taking our punishment, so that we could experience a relationship with the Father and eternal life. He sacrificed Himself because He loves us.

If the love of Jesus expressed in the gospel doesn’t warm your heart, and make you want to sacrifice and do what benefits others, then you may not have experienced the effects of the gospel in your own life; you may not have experienced God’s love. When God’s love comes into your life, you want to share that love with others by sacrificing yourself for them. If we allow God’s love to shine through each of us, we will do what benefits others. As a result, we too will be benefited and so will the community around us.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you pouring yourself out for others, or just expecting them to pour themselves out for you?


Post developed from my sermon Christian Community is for the Benefit of Otherswhich you can listen to in full by clicking here.





Should We Redefine Quality Time in the Internet Age?

I recently came across an old article I had saved that appeared in the New York Times back in 2011. The article is entitled Quality Time, Redefined. It was written by Alex Williams. You can read it here. In his article, Williams argues computers, Kindles, and iDevices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch, are creating a different form of quality time for families.

Quality Time?

Throughout the article, Williams provides anecdotal evidence from families and couples, who believe these devices have given them more opportunity for quality time, even though they are simultaneously connected to “parallel worlds” through their iDevices. He tells of a family who spends their nights reading, watching shows on iTunes, doing homework, and playing video games all at the same time, in the same room, on each of their individual devices, while interacting with one another about the content they are digesting.

One mom says, “An evening like that can bring more closeness than a night spent huddling over a board game back in the days of analog.”

Williams agrees, and he believes this and other accounts serve as evidence that “technology is bringing the family together, not pulling it apart.” He believes families are pulled together because the “proliferation of devices and media options make it easier for family members to pursue their interests online while seated in the same room.”

But does spending time doing your own thing, submerged in your own world, really count as quality time?

Not in my opinion. Sure, these families are in the same room, and they may even be interacting, but they are not building meaningful relationships with one another. They are, instead, projecting their digital world onto each other through momentary blips of conversation, which doesn’t serve to build deep relationships.

Relationship are built by interacting with one another in a meaningful way. In this article, you don’t hear of anyone talking about their day, the struggles they are having at work or school. Parents are not walking their children through Scripture, nor are they teaching, or even modeling a Christian worldview. Husbands are not washing their wives in the Word, and no one is practicing or learning self-sacrifice. Instead, they are celebrating Mario Kart victories, and sharing an occasional laugh at the latest Facebook video.

These families have not found a new way to experience quality time together. They have, instead, found a new way to experience “Me Time”, while making themselves feel as if they are experiencing family time.

Quality Time Involves

Quality time involves members of the family actually talking to and interacting with one another on a deeper level. Rather than treat the iPad as if it is a pacifier for teenagers, parents need to spend time talking with and drawing their kids out, and couples should be doing the same. A night on the couch indulging in Facebook, Twitter, and Hulu does not build long and lasting relationships. Nor does it allow parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord.

Families need to take time to unplug and disengage from their computers long enough to actually sit and talk with one another. Rather than “veg out” in front of the latest iDevice, parents should be opening the Scriptures with their children and teaching them what the Word of the Lord says. They should be modeling prayer and true Christian fellowship for their children. As well as parents should be spending time discussing the latest social trends, in order to help their children, teenagers in particular, develop a Christian worldview. Doing these things constitutes quality time.


So while the latest technologies are allowing families to spend more time in the same room together, it does not mean they are spending quality time together. Quality time is not interacting while having screen time. Instead, quality time is time together engaged in real and meaningful activity and conversation, which is uninterrupted and unencumbered by our iDevices.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you regard as quality time?

Are You Prepared for Persecution?

Christian persecution is not something new to us in the 21st Century. Throughout church history, believers have suffered persecution. “They have been beaten, ridiculed, defrocked, and defamed. They have suffered poverty, isolation, betrayal, and disgrace. They have been hounded, harassed, and murdered” [1].

Persecution Should Not Surprise Us

Persecution should come as no surprise to Christians. In John 15:19, we learn that we will be hated by the world.

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15:19)

Also, in 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Peter 4:13, we learn that we “will”, not “might”, face persecution. So if we are following the Lord, we will face persecution in some way, shape, or form; it is inevitable because we are rubbing against the world’s ideas. We are telling them what they want, what they believe, and what they do is not ok, even if we are not explicitly stating it. By the simple fact that we aren’t doing, wanting, or believing, what they believe is enough to cause the world to hate us. People love their sin (Jer. 14:10). They want it to be approved of, even celebrated. When someone, or a group of people, is not willing to do that, persecution arises.

What is Persecution?

Persecution occurs anytime we are attacked for our beliefs. Attacks may include anything from a smirk, to a laugh, to the loss of a job, to a verbal or physical assault, to being driven from our home, or even killed for what we believe. Persecution takes many forms. But it is nothing new. It has been happening from the beginning – Cain killed Abel because God looked on him in favor – and it will continue until Jesus returns.

The Advantage of Knowing

Knowing persecution is coming, actually works to our advantage because it allows us to prepare for it now. Prepare is something we must do. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be blindsided or sucker-punched by persecution. Instead, we should be prepared.

How Should We Prepare For Persecution?

(1) Meditate on the Promises of God

Reading and meditating on God’s promises, particularly those that deal with His return (Matt. 16:27; 24:4-5; 11; 23-27; 24:30-31; 24:37-39; Mark 8:38; Luke 17:28-30; 21:34-36; Jn, 14:1-3; 1 Jn 1:7-9; 1 Jn, 3:2), should help us see that persecution is not the end. Jesus will return. He will be victorious (Ps. 2; Dan. 2:44; 7; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev 1:13-16; 5:9-14; 12:10-11; 13:8; 19:16). We will be vindicated for our beliefs (Rev. 6:9-11). We will live in a perfect world free of persecution (Rev. 19; 21). Knowing and understanding these things are huge, if we are to face persecution with hope.

(2) Learn More About God and His Plan

We need to know that our God is not oblivious to persecution, as if He is sleeping in the heavens, while Christians are getting their heads cut off on earth. He knows what happens in this world, because He is intimately involved (Matt. 6:25-34).

We also need to know that our God is not powerless to defeat our enemies. Nor does persecution happen outside of God’s plan. He has a plan and purpose for everything that happens in this world (Ps. 139; 15-16; Dan. 7; Jn. 17:1-8). As such, He is able to work all things together for good, according to His will (Rom. 8:28). We may not understand or even know the purpose of our suffering, but God does.

As Christians, we must trust that God knows best and His will is perfect (Is, 43:3). We can trust God because of who He is. Scripture tells us our God is All-Powerful (Jer. 10:10), All-Sovereign (Is, 64:8; Acts 1:7), Omniscient (Matt. 6:25-34), Holy (Lev. 22:2; Is. 43:15; Matt. 6:9), Righteous (1 Pet. 1:17), Just (1 Pet. 1:17), Compassionate (Matt. 7:11), Loving (Ex. 34:6), and much more. Since our God possesses these attributes, we can trust His will, even if we can’t understand it.

(3) Seek Support 

Christians are born again into community. At the moment of salvation, we become apart of a body – the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12). As members of the body of Christ, we are called to seek and give support and comfort to one another in times of persecution (2 Cor. 1:4), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), and encourage and build one another up (1 Thess. 5:11), as we face trials of various kinds (James 1:2).

Don’t let persecution sucker-punch you, instead prepare for it now, because it is coming.

Question for Reflection

  1. How are you preparing for persecution?



[1] George Grant, A History of Persecution, Table Talk Magazine August 2015, 11.