What I Would Like to See in A Local Church

 In Jason Bunger

The Kind of Church I Would Want to Join

I have the enormous privilege of serving on staff at Hope Church.  I am grateful for the people who I get to serve with at the local church and humbled that I have recently been appointed to serve this congregation for a seventh year.  I am fortunate to be both called and appointed to Hope.  I feel deeply committed to our congregation.  

However, it occurred to that I don’t “choose” a church in the same way that most people in our community do.  So I asked myself: “If I was not a church staff member. What if I was not already connected to a local church, what type of church would I want invest my life into now?”  I began to ask, “What would I look for in a church?” So I took out my journal and wrote down these items.  Some are true for my current setting, some maybe not-so-much.  This is not an evaluation of Hope, or any other ministry.  It is just the kind of church I would want to join.  

What Would I Look for In a Local Church?  

  1. Biblical and Relevant teaching.  I want to be reminded each week why Christ is worthy to be exalted.  I want the teaching to be rooted in scripture and yet I want it to relevant enough that it answers the questions that I am wrestling with, no matter the stage of my Christian maturity.
  2. A safe and secure Children’s Ministry that places discipleship above entertainment.  Don’t misunderstand me, I want children’s ministry experience to be enjoyable.  But the local church will have my children for a maximum of 52 hours in a given year.  I want this time to be maximized.  It is not the job of the math teacher, piano teacher, and soccer coach to entertain my children.  It is their job to set them up for success by teaching them disciplines I will reinforce at home.  I can entertain my children without the help of the local church, but I cannot disciple them without the local church.  I also want my children’s best friends to be their “church friends.”   
  3. Pastors and leaders who know my name and pray for me by name.  There is nothing wrong with a big church.  But personally, I want my pastor to know me personally and I want to know my pastor personally.  
  4. Honoring my time.  I want to worship and serve and I want to have fun doing it.  But I also am extremely busy.  So, I want to show up on time, start on time and be finished on time and I want to know that what I am giving my time to is meaningful.  Nothing irritates me more than people wasting my time with a lack of consideration and preparation.    
  5. Modeling “Excellence.”  Excellence is not being the best. Excellence is doing the best you can with what you have.  It is not important for me to worship in the nicest facility with the hottest band.  It is important to me though that the facility is clean, the band has rehearsed and that people genuinely are giving the best that they have to give to God and others.  I want to be my best, and I am encouraged to be my best when other people are being their best.   
  6. A place that I am excited to bring friends to attend with me.  I want a place that I can invite my friends, of all ages and backgrounds, that is excellent, authentic, understandable and not weird.  
  7. People coming to the Lord.  I want to be part of a church that is regularly seeing people to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  
  8. An Outward Focus.  I don’t expect the church to do everything, but I do expect it to do something.  I want to be part of a church that is making a difference locally and globally.  I want to hear the names and see the photos of people that are impacted by the sacrificial service and giving of my church.
  9. I want a place where I can get connected.  I want to be part of a church where I have a handful of “drop by” friends.  
  10. A diverse congregation.  I want my church family to be multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-socioeconomic.  I want my church to be filled with people whom I probably would never cross paths with in my daily life.  I believe that the more diverse a Christian community is, the more it reflects and serves the people of God.  I grow the most when I am around people unlike myself.
  11. A place that does not judge me, but does challenge me.  I want to be better.  I want to be more Christ-centered and less Jason-centered.  I don’t want to stay the same.  If I join a gym, I want to be challenged to be healthier.  If I enroll in a class, I want to learn everything I can.  Likewise, I want the church to make me a better Christian than I would be on my own.  I want to be in an environment that expects, and helps me, to be better.
  12. Reminds me that Christ is bigger than my problems. Every week, I want to leave church more encouraged than when I arrived.  
  13. Christ-Centered worship music that is led with reverence, relevance and excellence.    
  14. A sense of joy and expectation.  I want to come to church expecting God to do something.  I want to be part of an environment where you can sense anticipation on the part of the congregation.  An organ can play joyful gospel music as seen in many churches or it can play a dirge at a funeral parlor.  When I come to church I want a celebration, not a funeral.  I came to celebrate life and not death.
  15. A cup of gourmet coffee would be nice, but not necessary.  I can find coffee somewhere else, but what is offered at the local church cannot be found anywhere else.  Having said that, nothing beats a really good cup of coffee.   
  16. A place that I can grow with and will grow with me.  I want to be an important part of the church.  (This may sound arrogant.  But would you rather be important or not-important?) If the church continues to grow (as healthy churches do), I still want to be important, which means I am going to have to grow as well.     
  17. A place that genuinely helps people.  I want to be part of a church that helps people overcome our sin and challenges.  I want to be part of a church that helps people be better parents, students, spouses, employees, consumers and givers.  I want to be part of a church that helps people overcome the cycles of addiction, dysfunction and shame through the transforming power of Christ. 

That is all I would like to see in a local church.  That’s all.


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