Do you have problems with churchgoing?

I have written How to Cope with the Church and I have tried to address the question of whether being a Christian necessarily means going to church

Here is another aspect of the issue of churchgoing.

Many people do not realise that their choice of church can be really important. It is all too easy to assume they are all more or less the same. If you are not happy in the one you have been going to, you cannot see how you would benefit by simply going to a different one, whether of the same denomination or not.

What’s different about another church?

If you are aware that churches differ, you might be under the impression it is all about doctrine. That is the exact set of beliefs each church follows. Surely that was the reason for all the different denominations? Did they not break away from each other due to disagreement on certain things? Yes, and No!

Often small differences got blown up out of proportion. Sometimes the issue was not so much belief about God or the Bible, but about organisation. Some were more democratic than others, but that has largely changed, although the details of governance are different from one denomination to another. Usually, these points are of more concern to the clergy than to the man or woman in the pew.

As to differences of belief, you are likely to find as wide a variety of views within most churches as between them, on all but the basic essentials.

What matters to you for your churchgoing?

Have I contradicted myself? Did I say the choice of church was important, only to go on to say it is not? What I mean is that the difference between two churches of the same denomination can be as great as between denominations. What is more important for most of is not the finer points of doctrine, it is more down to earth. Literally.  Do be prepared to look at churches belonging to different denominations, unless you have a strong reason for keeping to the same one.

The things you need to ask yourself when choosing a church are not what its official view is on interpreting a particular verse of the Bible, think rather about the following points.

  • What kind of music do they use?
  • How formal are the services?
  • Is the preaching interesting and relevant?
  • Are there other opportunities to learn about the Bible or the faith?
  • What arrangements are there for children and teenagers?
  • How pleasant is the overall experience?
  • What activities are there, apart from Sunday worship?
  • How do they engage with the community?

If you look, you will be surprised how varied churches are. You need not be a square peg in a round hole. Seek and ye shall find!