CHURCH SHOPPING

“…the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

It seems that more people today are challenging traditional affiliations. For instance, a 2013 Gallup Poll has determined that 40% of American voters consider themselves to be Independent (www.gallup.com). This is the highest number ever of those not expressing an alliance with the Democratic or Republican Party.

This trend toward change from traditional institutions is seen in religion as well. In a 2009 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, it was discovered that 44% of Americans have changed faiths (Time Magazine, April 28, 2009). The traditional religion of a family is apparently no longer a sound predictor of the religion of its descendants. The church where Mother and Dad were members is no longer as strong of an influence as it used to be. “Church shopping” is more widely practiced than ever before.

This does not have to be a “bad” trend. Jesus condemned the tendency of religious practice being determined solely by tradition. He said to the Pharisees and scribes of His day, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:3)? If it were not for the willingness of some people to break from tradition, the restoration movement would’ve never begun in America.

Much of the church–shopping today, however, is not done as a search for greater truth, but as the pursuit of personal preferences. As such, physical facilities, church programs and the general makeup of the membership are chosen over sound biblical doctrine. Insignificant matters are weighed heavier in people’s decisions than the timeless foundations of true religion.

The Bible says that the true church is “the pillar and support of the truth”. Notice, it does not say a truth, but the truth. The biblical church is going to be the one that upholds and defends not its individual perception of truth, but the one and only truth of God. The truth rather than a truth. The true church is not going to use public opinion to construct its doctrine that defines it.

Therefore, if you choose to go church-shopping today, before you begin, open your Bible. Find out from God what the church is like. Let the New Testament determine membership in the church, worship, church organization and morality. Let GOD dictate to YOU the pattern for HIS church. Don’t be found dictating to GOD what you want it to be! — Floyd Kaiser, Southwest church of Christ, Ada, OK

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