Although I was raised in the church, the wrong road was taken somewhere along the way. Week after week it became easier to find excuses to miss church. Thanks be to God, I found my way back through the Catholic Church (I was raised in the Assembly of God Church). All of my sacraments had been completed, except marriage.
My husband and I did not discuss religion at the beginning of our relationship. While I was active in the church, he was not. Note: This has caused many struggles in our marriage. I highly recommend not getting married unless you are both active/inactive in the same religion. Being unequally yoked is extremely hard for everyone involved. Once we were talking about marriage, it became a hot topic.
Because he was from an all Catholic family, I automatically assumed we would be married in the Catholic church. As a result, I was already planning how to decorate the church and trying to decide where the reception would be. Then bam, he told me he did not have all of his sacraments. What? How could this be? He was raised in an all Catholic family and he didn’t have all of his sacraments?
At the time, his brother-in-law was scheduled to take a class at a local church. Problem solved! He would just go with him. He would be done prior to the wedding, thank goodness. Except, he did not want to do it. He had no desire to become a member of a Catholic Church. He said it was boring and wanted to find a different church. Shock flooded my entire body. After much talk, we decided to get married at the Justice of the Peace and had a reception at a venue resembling a castle. Although many family members were upset with the decision (funny how that happens when you do not do what others are expecting) it all worked out. Being the black sheep of the family is tough!
Once the celebration was over and reality sunk back in, we had to figure out a way to find a church. Growing up, which church was never a question. A huge obstacle we faced was being raised in different church atmospheres. His upbringing was very traditional while mine was the complete opposite. One common aspect for both was legalism. And, we did not agree with that way of teaching.
“Legalism is the act of putting law above gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and reducing the broad, inclusive and general precepts of Bible to narrow and rigid moral codes. [It] is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God’s grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption.” Source Wikipedia
After visiting a church, we both had different views. Why I thought this was going to be an easy task is beyond me. Is a chart really necessary? Isn’t this one time in my life where one does not have to be created? No. So, off to the researching I went. After loads of research, the below is the final product of how I came about finding the right (not perfect!) church for our family.
How far are you willing to drive to church each Sunday morning? If you commute long hours to and from work on a daily basis, you probably want a church that is close by. However, if you do not have long work commutes, it may not bother you. Whether you are a morning person or not is also a factor. The farther the church is, the earlier you have to wake up.
Once you decide how far you are willing to travel, go to Google and type in “churches near me.” There you will find all the churches in your area. Click on the link and you will see exactly how many miles/minutes away it is from your house. Friends, neighbors, and co-workers are other excellent sources.
Make a list of all the churches and visit their websites. There you will be able to find out their “core beliefs” as well as service times. Note: Being in agreement with their “core belief” is extremely important. If you do not agree, do not go.
Once your final list is complete, it is time to start attending church! Attending at least three times is highly recommended. Each service is different and sometimes there are guest speakers. The more you go the more you will know if that is where God wants you.
This the absolutely most important step. Do not listen to the influence of others. Take your spouse’s hand and sincerely pray to your Heavenly Father. He will direct you if you let Him. How? There will be absolute peace. If there is any uncertainty in your heart, that is God, listen to Him.
Once you have prayed over your decision, it is time to become members. After service, there is always someone in the entrance area you can speak to about becoming a member. They will be able to guide you to someone who can help with the process.
When you are unable to attend church (i.e., sickness, out-of-town, etc.), there are many pastors you can watch live from your computer/television. Pastor Creflo Dollar, Pastor Jesse Duplantis, Pastor John Hagee, Pastor T.D. Jakes, Pastor Ron Carpenter, and Joyce Meyer are who I turn to. Each has an abundance of sources with an array of topics for anything you are going through. You can also watch past sermons on YouTube. Each one of them has helped me in various ways and I highly recommend them all.
Remember, there is no perfect church because not one person on this planet is perfect. Unfortunately, sin is in the church, so people leave. Do not let someone deter you from getting your blessings (actually it is Satan using that person). We all have our faults, which is why we are there! Go to praise God and learn from the teachings.
If someone is pushing you, walk away. It is okay to turn your back on someone if they are trying to bring you down. God brings you up, Satan brings you down. If that person is truly meant to be in your life, they will apologize for their actions and stop doing them. If they continue, you know they are not from God.
How did your family find a church?Charissa