Do you feel like you're just going through the motions of worship in church? Do you secretly wish you could miss church entirely so you could just sleep in on Sundays?
If so, you need to find a church where you can encounter Christ's living presence. When you're part of a church that follows God's design, you'll want to get out of bed for it.
Here's how you can find a church worth getting out of bed for:
Search for a bride. Look for a church that fulfills its biblical role as Christ's bride. Choose one where people completely give themselves to Jesus with passion, strive to glorify Him rather than themselves, seek to serve Him however they can, work to spread His message throughout the world, and make room in their hearts for the Holy Spirit to reign. Search for a church that tries to partner with God to accomplish His purposes on earth, relying on His power and giving Him the credit. Make sure the church leaders and members make praise, prayer, and proclaiming God's Word top priorities.
Be a good disciple, and help disciple others. Let God have His way in all aspects of your life to transform you more and more into the person He wants you to become. Then, as you're transformed, you'll recognize the right church - a place that will enable you to keep growing. Draw on Christ's power to enable you to expand His kingdom into your workplace, neighborhood, school, and family. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in all you do and say. Strive to live your life in sync with God's purposes. Manage your time, energy, and money in ways that enable you to devote yourself wholeheartedly to God's work in the world. Teach others how to draw close to Christ themselves through the Bible, prayer, and worship.
Understand what the city of God is like. Know that the church's ultimate identification is as a city designed by God. It has great significance, because God does His earthly work through it. All the city's citizens - the congregation - should work together to accomplish God's work and recognize that none of them can be effective independent of the others. Realize that membership in the city is based on only one, vital standard - whether people have saving relationships with Christ. Know that the city is built on a corporate structure where people cooperate with each other rather than focusing just on Jesus and themselves. Understand that a river of life flows through the city and out into the world, bringing God's healing to everyone who encounters it.
Seek a sanctuary. Remember that God has always tied His presence to a sanctuary - a place where He connects with His people. Know that a biblical church isn't just a building; it's a place where God dwells with His people. Look for a church where people encourage each other to seek God's presence regularly so they encounter Him in fresh ways. Search for a place that strives to unleash God's power in the congregation and surrounding community.
Deal with hypocrisy. Be realistic about the kind of people you'll meet in church; realize that we're all sinners who live in a fallen world. Don't expect everyone in church to have overcome sins that exist in the world, such as prejudice, immorality, pride, and selfish ambition. Know that people are works in progress, going through various stages of maturity. Don't let hypocrisy keep you away from church; instead, let it motivate you to participate so you can build relationships with people and help them grow. Recognize other people's spiritual gifts and encourage them to use them. Work against division and for unity.
Look for a church that models itself on the original. Remember how the early church began, and look for the qualities it had when you're considering churches today. Read the biblical book of Acts to study what the early church was like. Search for a church that is convinced of the Messiah's uniqueness, declaring that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life. Seek a church that is compelled by a universal mission to spread the gospel to all people, regardless of their lifestyle, race, economic status, politics, etc. Look for a church that is working to change the world through teaching, baptism, communion, and ministries. Search for one where leaders aren't afraid to discipline members whose actions block the flow of ministry, and where members know the Bible well enough to back up their beliefs with it. Look for evidence of God's supernatural power working through the church. Ask God to show you how He wants you to fit into the life of the church.
Adapted from Did I Get Out of Bed for This?: Finding a Healthy Church, copyright 2004 by David Edwards. Published by NexGen, an imprint of Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, Co., www.cookministries.com.
David Edwards travels the country full time, speaking to more than 200,000 young adults each year in churches and a variety of other settings. As a member of Generation X, he knows firsthand the conflicts, passions, and dreams of this generation. He has been a featured speaker for citywide weekly Bible study groups in eight states and has authored the Destinations video series, as well as his books, One Step Closer, and Lit.