It’s funny how perception can change at the blink of an eye. When I compared the lives of my heroes to the life of my granny, I realized just how shallow and materialistic I’d allowed myself to become. All of those things… the money, the power, the cheers… they were only skin deep. The empire that my heroes spent the majority of their lives building had become the top priority in their lives, and their relationships and the spiritual health of those that followed them had suffered because of it.

This was how I came to realize that I had to take Bible study seriously. That is why I process the things I read in the Scriptures and allow them to mold me. As followers of Christ, we need to allow God’s word to pick us apart and form us into who God wants us to be. Without that, I seriously don’t know if any of us can know what a healthy church really is, or if we could ever really trust the pastors who are tasked with watching over our souls, loving God, honoring His word, and loving His people.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things Up

I'm a firm believer that you won't truly understand something unless you take the time to become involved in whatever that "something" is doing. I see this error a lot in our contemporary Christian culture. Unfortunately, a lot of division takes place that really shouldn't. I used to look at denominations in this light. That is, until I went out and experienced a few of them.

Take the assemblies of god church I visited for four months. It's a very well-known church with a good reputation. They believed in things like prophecy and speaking in tongues, but they never allowed those things to occur outside of the biblical context of 1 Corinthians 14:26. The worship services were more charismatic than many of the other denominations I attended, but it was always done in a intimate and respectful way.

A seemingly polar opposite from that church was the southern baptist church we attended for a couple months. They taught that spiritual gifts like praying in tongues had ceased with the Apostles. I may not have seen a whole lot of charisma during the worship there, but I saw a whole lot of charisma in the way they treated one another. Biblical teaching on loving God and loving others was not lacking in that environment... and that is something of which you can't have enough.

Then there was the acts 29 church plant that gave me a great deal of hope for the future of the American church. I'd estimate that about 80 percent of the members were college-aged singles and young families. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a tremendous thirst for biblical knowledge and action. Even though we chose not to make this church our home after nine months, we value this experience so much because of the teaching we received and the lifelong friendships we made.

When we arrived there, they were in the middle of a teaching on the Book of Acts that would end up lasting a few more months. For those of you who are unfamiliar with expository teaching, I can't stress enough how vital it is in our churches. In a time where so many things in the Bible can be pulled out of context, going through the Bible verse by verse in our sermons would avoid so many problems.

We also attended an evangelical presbyterian church for 4-5 months which we also grew to love for a number of reasons. These folks really understood youth ministry and missions. It was the lifeblood of the body and seemed to drive everything they did. This was also the environment where I learned the difference between "closed-hand" issues and "open-hand" issues.