I've been thinking quite a bit these days about, well, everything! But one thing that has fascinated me is the Church. There are so many books written about the church: Church history, "doing" church, how to grow your church, how to feed your church, what to look for in a church, why churches are important, why churches are in decline, etc.
I wonder what is the most important part of a church; if one were to set out to join an "ideal" church what would it look like? What would be the one thing above all else that would make you choose a church over another?
Is it the programs, youth group, music, people, facilities, sports offerings, cafe, (yes, some churches have them and even 'food courts') a gym (again, some churches have 'em) creative arts, drama, kids choir, adult choir, good coffee, or great band?
Is it Biblical preaching? The Pastor and staff? I was amazed this morning while in conversation to hear from a former worship pastor that he received all kinds of emails complaining about the music! Music! To me, this is a non issue, but in conversation later with my husband, he pointed out that there have been major divisions in the church stemming from music. It's important!
For me, if someone were to have asked me what was most important a few months ago, I'd have said Biblical preaching. I anticipate listening to a great sermon and I do enjoy it when it's told creatively but beyond that I want to listen to good preaching where I am asked to open to a chapter and verse and glean truth from the Word through the study of the Pastor.
And yet... is that the main point of going to church? I don't know anymore. Recently in the area I live a well known pastor who has authored several books and has a radio ministry decided to be head, or teaching, pastor at a local church. I don't know all the details, all I know are rumors but supposedly over 600 new members joined the church before his arrival. I've heard that he's only going to preach about 65% of the time. (not sure if that's correct) and since the church is large, I wonder how many of the congregation he's really expected to get to know? Even to hear excellent Biblical preaching from a person who was famous, I'd not leave my church. First, I'm fortunate enough that my pastor is an excellent preacher. Secondly, because I now realize there is so much more than just a great or inspired teacher. WIth the internet and itunes, I no longer need to even set foot in any church; I have access to some of the best Biblical teaching around, all free. If its only about excellent expository preaching then I don't even have to step outside my home to enjoy that.
So, if it's not about the preaching being the most important thing, what is it? What makes your church so wonderful you want to stay? Tell me; I'm interested.