These ten signs are so equally applicable to one's local church that I thought it appropriate to list those same 10 headings as “no's no's” in your local church. (www.smh.com.au)
Churches today are part of the market place for worshippers. Every market research result tells us today that there has been little denominational loyalty for some decades and there has been a shift by many non-conformists and Roman Catholics to the ranks of the myriad of Pentecostal brands (without shifting their original allegiance on the Census form).
In my local region, on the Queensland – New South Wales border, Tugun (Gold Coast Airport), Coolangatta, Tweed Heads, Banora Point, Kingscliff regions, there are 11 Pentecostal church groups along with the main line denominations including the Banora Point Salvation Army indoor sports complex and the Chinderah Churches of Christ indoor sports complex.
In other words, there is plenty of choice.
In any local area Christian communities know each other pretty well. If one church doesn't quite fit your need or the politics is too overpowering for your taste, or the music isn't right for you, whatever it is, go somewhere else. (But don't leave entirely).
Having said all that, here are these 10 headings that David Wilson applies to Banks, which I've transferred to apply to the suburban church.
First impressions are critical each Sunday. Do you like what you see? What sort of welcome did you receive?
Is the philosophy that of the hard sell? Is 'stuff' thrust at you as you enter and is Mr or Mrs Collegiality “welcomer' over the top?
What is the communication like between the congregants and to the preacher including the follow-up policy.
I recently visited a church on a Sunday morning, I filled in the card listing my details and mobile phone and on the Tuesday morning I received a call on my mobile from that church, saying how nice it was I visited and welcoming me back. That's good rapour!
Is the place “slack” in what they do in their worship? Second rate? Thorough preparation lacking.
Does someone say they will get you that information (whatever) and then promptly forget about you?
Is what is being presented and preached lacking genuineness, sound belief and even fervent expression? How many times have you said to yourself, “They don't believe this stuff, it's too routine!”
Fees through the roof
Is it all about money and you are asked to do the giving …..
When you need some help and call for assistance are you put on hold ….
Is the politics of the church a cesspit of control of the few …. stinks to high heaven.
Is the church hard to find, difficulty in parking, what about the entry and exits.
There we are! The 10 “no's no's” for banks apply equally to the suburban church. Why not check out your local church with these 10 and present them to your church leaders for review purposes. Who knows, a few minor changes might make the world of difference.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html