Are you and your family searching for a healthy church to plug into? Not sure what to look for in a church? How do you know if the church you're attending is a healthy church? In this episode of the Dad Tired podcast, host Jerrad Lopes outlines 6 qualities that a healthy church possesses.
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How To Find A Healthy Church For Your Family
Jerrad: Sometimes I think when we are thinking about [1:36}] the concept of being a spiritual leader of our home we can oftentimes overcomplicate it and we just think too deeply about it you know like what devotional do I need to use that do I know enough theology have I studied the Bible well enough we add too many things which is kind of classic human behavior we love to have make things more complicated to add more rules then there need to be and the truth is you just don't need overcomplicate it the best spiritual leaders I know where the guys who just they read the Bible [2:03] that do what it says they pray with their kids they take their kids to church they make sure they're involved in the community you know like basic stuff man so you see a lot of guys who are kind of getting dragged by their wives to church on Sunday you know you're missing a game you just don't want to be there you want to mix it up with people you've worked hard all week and last thing you is like get up and go to church where they just tell you what to do and ask for all your money right that's kind of a classic notion that a lot of guys have so [2:30] we don't want to be those kind of guys we want to be the kind of guys who say I'm going to find a good church for my family where my kids can be around other families who are trying to follow Jesus really well and we want to get to know them and we want them to get to know us and so we're not getting dragged to church by our wives instead a good spiritual leader is like I'm going to find a good church man and I'm going to figure out a way to get plugged in and to serve and to learn the scriptures and to do life alongside of people and not only am I not being dragged by my wife to go to church but I'm the first one up and I'm spend some time with the Lord and I'm bringing my family with me and I'm excited to do it so [3:06] I know with all that said though it can be hard to find a church that you're like man it's just been hard to find a church that is just a good church that me and my family can get plugged into I hear that a lot you know I live out here on the West Coast in Portland and so I would say after traveling for the last 5-6 years around the country have I noticed that there are actually a lot more solid churches in the Bible Belt I totally understand why they call it the Bible Belt now after being out on the west coast I grew up in California live Portland area now and so you know there is a big difference between trying to find a good healthy church out here versus just the quantity of churches that there are in the South and so at wherever you're listening though whether you have a church on every corner in your town or maybe you live in a place where it just it seems scarce and it's really hard to find quality Church wherever you're at on that spectrum [3:57] the reality is we want to find a good faith family that we can get plugged into and sometimes that's really difficult and so what I want to talk about today after being in the church world since I was 18 years old I literally got hired full time at a church at 18 years old since then I've worked in churches I've traveled and spoken at hundreds of different churches and so I just want to share kind of my 2 cents take it for what it's worth take it with a bunch of salt a few grains of salt here but I just want to share some things that have stuck out to me and some suggestions I might have for you if you're asking yourself how do I find a good church how do I leave my family to find a church that we can get plugged into that's really what I want to tackle today you know one thing that sticks out to me as I'm traveling around and I do this a few times a month I'll go to churches and I’ll speak we’ll either do a DadTired conference or we’ll do or I'll get invited to speak at another church service or a conference or whatever one thing that's really stick out to me man is you can almost immediately and you guys know me [4:53] if you been listen to podcast for a while I try not to over spiritualizing things but I don't want to under spiritualize things either but sometimes you just show up to a church and you can be there for minutes dude and you can almost immediately sense that the spirit of God is at work now if you're not part of church and youre like you're just like this is all new to you and you hear me say things like that like like you can just sense the spirit of God I know that sounds weird bro I know that that sound like a weird thought but I'm telling you it's not like finding a good business or good restaurant where you walk in you got to sit down and get served or something there's something supernatural happening there's something bigger than just how the decor is at the church and what kind of font they use for their logo [5:32] and on the stuff there's like something deeper happening and you can sense it pretty quickly when I go to speak at these churches and I'm there even just for a few minutes I interact with pastors I interact with some of the people of the church you just get a sense that man this place is different and maybe it even looks the same as the 15 other churches that you went to but there's just something different and so really what I want to try to it's hard to explain it's definitely hard to quantify that to like say OK how do you put some tangible data behind that feeling well I don't know you know just have to trust the spirit of God's leading you and you can sense man when the Spirit of God's working in you and you were around other people you like you can just sense like the spirit of God is alive and at work here [6:13] but I also want to give some like practical as many practical things as I can that as you're looking for a church here are some things that you can look for ultimately what we’re trying to find this at the Spirit of God is at work and he is moving and I'll just say the reverse of that there have been times where I've been at certain churches and you do get the sense that man this thing is running this machine is running almost exclusively on man-made effort and I know that sounds terrible but that's the truth and often times that's a leadership top-down leadership so you have a senior pastor or the the lead person or you're bored and often times you have in these kind of churches you have these kind of leaders who are just they are convinced that their ideas are what is going to drive the growth and health of the church [6:58] and maybe they are sharp and they've got lots of great ideas but if you do not have somebody who is humble enough to say listen this is the stuff of God were talking about here like I have no control really at the end of the day like I'm talking about a leader that says I have no control of changing anybody's lives we need God to come and do something that I am not personally capable of doing or our team or our staff is not capable of doing on our own we need Jesus to show up when you have a leader or leaders or people in leadership that have that kind of posture it bleeds down it you feel that in you get a sense of that at the church [7:34] and there's times just frankly when they're that that's not happening when subconsciously or subtly I should say you have a leader who is convinced or leaders or board who's convinced that they are smart enough to kind of lead the people of God without God and you show up to that church and everything looks right and everything on paper and they got cool marketing and cool worship and fog machines and they're doing all the right thing and yet something very serious is missing and that's the spirit of God at work through humble people leading the people of God closer to himself [8:06] and so at the end of the day what we really want is we want to find churches with really humble leaders let me give you some just thoughts this popped out to me because I did have somebody in our family leadership program if you're not part of that we'd love to have you be part of that you go to dadtired.com/leadl but one of the guys in our family leadership program reached out hey man we're in the middle of trying to find a church any suggestions on what to look for when looking for church here some things that came to mind [8:30] the first one is this do they and I mean people in leadership pastors leadership staff at the church do they talk about Jesus more than they talk about you I mean this in general but I also mean this specifically when they're on stage teaching the word of God like when you show up on a Sunday and you're at a service do they talk about Jesus and the gospel more than they talk about you if you just sit in on 3 or 4 services maybe you watch a few services online when they're talking when they're getting to the main point of their message is the point Jesus and the good news of the Gospel or is the point you you can overcome this God has great things for you God has big plans for your life you are great because God made you great you know [9:14] you just literally count the words like how many times did they say Jesus how many times did they talk about the gospel and how many times did they talk about you because here's the truth man churches can grow some of the biggest churches I've seen that have the most money have the most growth have the most people even have the most energy are churches that talk about you a lot and dude the truth is man it's easy to grow churches like that it's easy to grow a church when you tell everybody that God has great plans for you that God wants you to be really rich and healthy and successful and you're an overcomer and God is going to do massive things through you who wouldn't want to be part of that church and who wouldn't want to toss some money in the basket but the truth is that is not gospel centered the gospel the story of God the story of all the scriptures is about Jesus and so we want our eyes to be focused on Jesus [10:06] you can even see this in the songs that they sing during worship is it all about me God you've done great things for me you're going to do great you know it's all that's me me me centered and that is not the foundation of Christianity the foundation of Christianity is I'm a wretched sinner I am fallen far from the goodness of God and from the grace of God and yet it's God's grace that is amazing that saved me and is turning my unrighteousness to righteousness now and so I want our eyes to be pointing back to Jesus as much as possible not about me can God do great things through you of course [10:42] but dude you are not the main character of the story your family's not the main character of the story you will be here and then you will die really quickly and the story moves on without you this is not your story The Scriptures are not about you they are about Jesus and so what you want to do is look for a church that really is pointing back to the hero of the story and that's Jesus not you not your family not the people of the church not even the church itself if you hear people you know we’re the greatest church we’re the biggest we’re doing the man I think you may have they’ve lost sight of the who is the real hero of the story and that's Jesus so the first thing I’d say is do they talk about Jesus more than they talk about you yes their church may be huge because it's at their preaching is motivational messages but man dangerous stuff we want to come back to the good news of the Gospel are they talking about God Jesus as the hero and the main character of the story not about you not about their Church the second thing I would say is do they read scripture in context these two things [11:41] kinda go hand-in-hand sometimes you'll hear a pastor kind of cherry pick 1 verse the really classic example of this might be let's just do a whole sermon on I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me oftentimes what happens there is you have a pastor who is again or leadership who's again making the the story of the Bible about you not about God and they've completely taken verses out of context to kind of build you up and make you feel good about yourself that you can go achieve anything you want [12:09] because God's on your side what we want to do is we want to find churches who are reading scripture in their full context this is really important man I grew up in churches where the pastor would make whole sermons off of 1 Word or off of 1 verse that was completely out of context and everyone felt really good about it and you clap and you you feel more empowered and really motivated but you didn't actually learn the scriptures or the context of the scriptures and I'll just be honest with you guys I am not a Bible scholar if you've listened to this podcast for a long time you know I leave it up to guys who are much smarter than me but that's not to say I don't appreciate really really solid theological Biblical teaching I want to sit under leaders who are smarter than me who have studied the Bible who are teaching the Bible in its context I don't want to just a fluffy motivational message [13:00] I want good Theology and that happens by finding leaders who are serious about teaching the word of God in context and a really simple way of kind of learning this or or finding out if this is true of that church is just how many verses do they read when they're reading that the portion of scripture that they're teaching from is it just one verse or are they giving a context did they give you a history of what was the writer saying who was the writer talking to what was happening right before that was happening right after that just giving you context of the scripture that being said man I will say I have seen a lot of churches that focus so much on becoming like studious [13:36] of the scriptures that they've lost sight of the Holy Spirit meaning we're just going to really study this like it's a text and we forget that there's a living God behind this text if we just study scripture for the sake of scripture we fall short scripture is supposed to be studied in its context for good theology so that we can get to know the person of God and there are a lot of churches who are just studying scripture and they're missing getting to know the person of God and so both need to be happening you need to study the scriptures in their context theologically sound give us the full context of the scriptures that we're learning but also let's remember that that's pointing us back to the person of Jesus if you find churches that are doing that they're teaching biblical passages in there full context and then it comes back to but how does this get us closer to Jesus [14:29] how does that help us fall in more in love with Jesus so that we can live out that gospel truth in everyday life dude you're starting to find a really healthy church and honestly if I'm totally honest these can be rare where you find churches like that but it's worth continuing to search for because that that it's super important to find a church that's teaching the scriptures in context and then also relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to work through that text to point you closer to Jesus so that you can live on mission for him I'm trying to fly through these I apologize if I'm going really fast here the third thing that stuck out to me as this person asked what do they what would I suggest they look for when looking for church is how do they focus on discipleship so here's an example I grew up I was visiting a church from time to time that was near in our neighborhood and I'd go visit the church really because I liked the music [15:19] I was a worship Pastor in kind of my early days until I really I like the music of this church anyway I visit there and every week they would tell the pastor's would stand on stage and they would say like 50 people came to know Christ last week a hundred people came to know Christ last week 150 people you know they're just like bragging about all these massive numbers of people that are coming to know Christ which is that's cool man I was like that's sweet all these people are coming to know Christ but here's the thing the church was like 400 people they're throwing around these massive numbers and the church isn't very big as far as people go and so you start to have a math problem if this many people are coming to know Christ at the church how come the church isn't bigger mathematically that doesn't add up here's what's that's actually telling me is they're measuring success based on converts [16:08] not on disciples so what's happening is they're having a lot of people say a prayer and then they're baptizing those people who say a prayer but they're not focused on discipleship and then what happens is your church never actually grows in discipleship people aren't becoming more like Christ they've just made a one-time decision maybe emotionally they've made a one-time emotional decision to repeat a prayer and maybe you get them to get baptized but then you've never focused their spiritual journey of discipling them of growing them up in Christ and now they've just fallen off they've gone back to their old life they've back to to probably not even around the church if discipleship was happening when you say you've got 50 a hundred a hundred and fifty people coming to know Christ [16:49] well your church should be growing by leaps and bounds because you've not only converted them but you've kept them and now you've discipled them and help them mature in the faith that's a sign of a healthy church I would rather have a church of 400 disciples people who are growing in their spiritual maturity people who are starting to understand this is what it looks like to die to myself daily to become a disciple of Christ to throw off my old ways into mature and Jesus dude if you have 400 people like that the world is changing as opposed to you've got potentially dozens or hundreds of people who are just saying a prayer and then you never see him again that is not what Jesus meant when he said go into all the world and make disciples when we’re not trying to make converts we’re trying to make disciples [17:36] and so one thing you can just ask the church leaders if you if you start to find a church that you like and and you're like man this I think this might be good church for us to plug into one of the questions you can ask the leaders or one of the questions you can ask for the leaders is what is discipleship look like at this church when somebody comes to know Christ here how are we as a church raising them up into spiritual maturity and then just listen do they have some kind of plan for discipleship or is it all about a Sunday morning experience [18:03] so that would be that the other thing I would say to look for when looking for a healthy church that you can plug into as a family is are they a blessing to the community do people in the community even if they don't go to that church do they know of the church and and do they have a reputation what's their reputation like are they judgemental is it like ah man none of the non-christians in that town like people at that church I like that church because they're judgmental they don't tip after service I've heard reputations like this that a church you know big church will get out on a Sunday and then they’ll kind of flood the local restaurants and all of the waitresses and waiters hate working on Sunday afternoon because everyone from that church is rude and they don't tip that's a terrible reputation when Jesus says be Salt and Light add flavor and goodness and hope to the communities around you that's not the kind of reputation you want what we should have happening is having all the waiters and waitresses all the service people wanting to work on Sunday afternoon because that church and those people of God have such a good reputation of being Salt and Light to the community around them that they can't wait to interact with them [19:08] and so just try to understand try to study and figure out what is the reputation of this church within the community are they a blessing or they a burden to the community another thing to look for is how are the young families are there young families around now I know this can be hard and sometimes you go to church and just a ton of people who are a lot older and that's awesome man it shows that there's some faithful generations that have been going there but you can tell the health of a church based on the diversity in both culture and age and so is it diverse is a diverse in the in the demographic that it's reaching and again sometimes that'll be diverse in race and cultures and things like that that's a really healthy great church and sometimes it's also a diversity in age do you have any young people are there kids are kids welcome what's the attitude towards young families are there older people are there wiser sages who are pouring into younger people [20:00] this is a really healthy multi-generational churches are very healthy churches and you can just tell the truth like if there are no young people around the reality is that church is probably going to be disappearing in the next 40 to 50 years which is really sad and so you have to just make a determination as a family do we want to be part of being a young family that comes in here and really pours in and serves at this church or is this a sign that they have no value for young families and as a result they don't really have a value for the future of the church and it's probably not the best church for us to go to the last thing I would say is how do they measure success [20:36] and this is the one thing that I constantly am looking for as I'm traveling across the country and I'm interacting with different Church leadership is I'm I'm asking them how do you measure success here how is things going I was just say hey how are things going and then I listen and that's one of the simplest questions you can ask the church leadership if you're looking for church hey how are things going here what would you say is the health of the church listen to how they measure success ah man givings really good budgets up we’re just renovating this new building you know we've got this kind of things or are they saying things like and this is how I know a church is healthy is when a pastor or when leadership is telling me about life change and I love this and I’ve been in some really great churches this year where I'm talking to Pastors and the pastors will say things like it when I say hey how's the church going how what's the health of the church and they'll say things ah man you got to meet Rick over here like Rick was a alcoholic 6 months ago and the guys he gave his life to Christ and he's been coming and we've been discipling him [21:35] and he's learning the word and he's being obedient and he's loving his family really well and his kids are now coming to church like when a pastor or leadership is telling me this is success i’m like oh man I'm in a good church here they get it that the primary mission of the church is to see the gospel and the kingdom of God advanced people are coming to know Christ [21:54] people are growing and discipleship discipleship lives are being changed for the sake of the Gospel of the kingdom is expanding out of these walls and into the neighborhoods that's a healthy sign that's a sign of a really healthy church and so I just asked leadership how's it going how do you guys define success here and just listen so again just as a quick recap do they talk about Jesus more than talk about you do they read scripture in context how are they focusing on discipleship what is discipleship look like at the church are they a blessing to the community what's their reputation are there young families around and how do they measure success listen ultimately here's the deal there's no perfect church I've been in a lot of churches mix it up with a lot of pastors over the a long time and I can are you every church is messy man but if they're humble look for humble leaders who know that God is the one who's going to change the church and they're teaching the gospel and the preaching the word of God in context [22:48] and then they want to be a blessing to community when you find churches like that it's going to be messy leadership will let you down you know pastor may fail in some area if there's major failure obviously but you know he's going to let you down but you know he's a human your staff are humans the people in the church are humans it's just messy and it's broken but ultimately you find a Church that's preaching the gospel and it's healthy based on the measurements that I just suggested then man just plug-in and and commit there the most radical thing you can do as a young dad right now is to just commit [23:20] to just show up man be committed serve just say hey we're here we're going to be here every week we're going to give our tithes here we're going to support this church financially and with our time and we're going to pour into it because we want to be used we see this as a family of God and we want to be used by God in this local family to see his kingdom, his will be done on Earth as it is in heaven and that's really dude that's radical man you're seriously stepping up as a spiritual leader if that's the kind of attitude you take [23:48] so anyway I hope that's helpful I know I kind of flew through that would love to hear your feedback if you've got any feedback come shoot a message over on social media we hang out on Instagram a lot you find us a dad tired love to hear your thoughts on just what do you look for when you're looking for a healthy church but I hope that's helpful for you guys I love you I'll see you next week later. 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