Have you ever “compared apples to apples” when making a critical decision for your family – perhaps buying a car, accepting a job offer, or purchasing a home?
Well, “comparing apples to apples” isn’t quite as simple when you are choosing a church home. Maybe it never occurred to you that apples actually reflect quite a vast array of diversity.Actually comparing apples to apples can be an extremely detailed process – but in the case of a choosing a church, it’s worth it, if the study leads to practical insight and wise choices. There are 7,500 varieties of apples in the world – just as there are seemingly thousands of different types of “Christian” churches – which could prove for quite an exhausting study!
So, let’s simplify for a moment, and let’s focus on the six core attributes of apples that are symbolic of six qualities you should consider when you are choosing a church.
CONSIDER THE TASTE
Have you ever noticed that tastes vary from person to person? Similarly, taste can sometimes be deceiving. Not everything that tastes good is good for you, and not everything that tastes bad is bad for you. And, tastes can even change over time. It’s one thing to let “taste” be your guide when choosing an apple, but choosing a church simply because of taste can prove to be dangerous. The question is “taste” or “truth?” A true Church will always have a taste for the Word of God – the Bible. Sometimes the Bible is encouraging to the heart – sweet to the taste. Other times the Bible tells it like it is and actually penetrates the heart with some discomfort – or distaste. Yet always, the Bible is truthful, life changing, and intended to transform our lives for the better! Choose a church that has a taste for the Bible where their messages bring Bible truth into practical light for your daily life.
CONSIDER THE TEXTURE
Bite into an apple and you will immediately get a feel for its texture. Some apples are soft, some are firm – some smooth and some coarse. Texture describes the feel and essential substance of an apple as well as a church. The texture of a church could be described as its way of determining truth and functioning. At Lakeside Baptist Church, the Bible is our foundation, and we’re working hard at balancing our texture as a church. At LBC you’ll find a family that loves you just as you are; and you’ll also find a teaching philosophy that encourages you to let God change you, grow you, and “improve you” through His truth! There is no such thing as a perfect church, including LBC. Yet every person can be greatly helped by finding a church where there is a commitment to the Bible and a texture of acceptance and grace.
CONSIDER THE VARIETY
Apples come in many varieties. Spiritual needs also vary widely from age group to age group – life-stage to life-stage. The variety of a church could refer to how well the church is attempting to meet the diverse spiritual needs of the people. At LBC, you will find we are attempting ministries to meet the unique spiritual needs of your family. From the nursery, to the children’s programs, to the youth ministry, to the adult ministries – chances are that everyone in your family will find the “perfect fit!”
CONSIDER THE COMPLEXITY
To someone who isn’t a horticulture expert – an apple is an apple! Even so, to someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time studying religion – a church is a church. An apple is extremely complex – each one holding about 80 calories, made up of 25% air, a great source of fiber, without sodium, fat, or cholesterol. The complexity of a church could be compared to “what it believes!” The single most important question you can ask about a church is “what does this church believe?” Many churches have complex doctrinal statements that originated from one man’s dream, one lady’s “vision”, or even centuries of meaningless traditions. On the surface, a church might look like all the rest, but the deeper question is, “What will this church be teaching you and your children?” At Lakeside Baptist Church, the answer to this question is simple – the Bible – nothing more, nothing less. The central figure of our church is Jesus Christ, the central message is the Bible, and the central purpose is to apply God’s truth to our everyday lives. We have pastors and teachers who constantly teach the Bible and lead us toward Christ. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became flesh, lived a perfectly sinless life on this earth, and shed His blood for the redemption, or forgiveness, of the world.
CONSIDER THE SIZE
The largest apple ever picked weighed a whopping three pounds! Yet, its size didn’t mean it was the tastiest, most nutritional, or even the prettiest. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, and smaller doesn’t always mean friendlier! The key question in regards to the size of an apple is this – “is it growing?” Once an apple stops growing, its life cycle is quickly coming to an end, and its days of nutritional value are numbered. Likewise, the question of a church’s size should be considered in terms of growth. A church is a living body – a family – of believers. In that healthy body, where nutrition is strong, there will be growth.
CONSIDER THE SOURCE
Before you picked it from the produce pile at the supermarket, that apple came from a tree. That tree had roots, years of growth, and a system of reproducing healthy apples. Even so, when choosing a church, you must consider the tree, the roots – where it came from. It’s important to find a church that traces their roots directly to Jesus Christ – God’s Son – and His message of love and redemption to the world. These churches focus on a relationship that brings people into a living, dynamic knowledge of a great and loving God through His Word, the Bible.
Comparing apples to apples (or churches to churches) is probably more complex than you realize. Don’t give up! It’s worth the study. Your family needs a church that has a taste for truth, a texture of love, a variety of helps, and a source directly in Christ. If you don’t already have a Bible-teaching church, stop and visit with us soon, and find out that we have a bushel of ways to encourage and help your life!
– Cary Schmidt, Used With Permission