Spend any amount of time hanging out with Christians online, and the subject of church is sure to arise. And when it does, the majority opinion is always the same: there are no good churches left in the world. None. There is altogether too much ear tickling, strobe lights, and pounding music and not nearly enough preaching about the spreading of the gospel or repentance from sin. Up until about a year and a half ago, I would have completely agreed with the consensus. I had been to a lot of different churches over the years, but none of them was right for me. None of them made me feel like I was at home in a church. That is until I let God pick one for me.
When God came for me in my lukewarm state, I was attending a Greek Orthodox church. I had been baptized Greek Orthodox as a baby and attended from the time I was twelve to eighteen (when I lived in with my father). As an adult, I bounced around to a Methodist Church and a Nondenominational church before I came back to my Orthodox roots after my divorce. None of those churches ever made me feel like I was in the right place, and none of them introduced me to the REAL God of the Bible.
But one day God came for me. He let me know that I was not living for Him, and I needed to get hot or He would spit me out. (See my testimony here.) So, I started reading the Bible every day and searching the internet for messages on everything from getting closer to God to deliverance from curses, both generational and from sin. I stopped going to the Orthodox church altogether and would just wake up on Sunday morning and pray, asking God what He wanted me to learn about and who He wanted me to hear from. I would get a sense about the topic and the person, and more often than not, the sermon would zero in on exactly what was happening in my life. The pastors I chose from were usually David Wilkerson, Derek Prince, Paul Washer, Carter Conlon, and Leonard Ravenhill.
One day when I was worshiping to a song on YouTube by myself with my hand raised, I had a strong feeling that I wanted to worship with other people. “Pentecostal” dropped into my mind, so I started looking for a nearby church. I had never even been to a Pentecostal church before and had no idea what to expect. Anyway, the closest one to my house was about eight minutes away, so I got dressed and ready that next Sunday a little before 10 am. It just so happened that it was Easter Sunday. When I got to the parking lot, I was amazed to see how full it was. I drove way out to the edge of the huge lot, and there “just happened” to be a man there who was getting something out of his truck. I asked him about services, and he said that this week’s start time was different because of Easter.
Huh. Well, on to plan B. I got my phone back out and did another search for Pentecostal churches in the area. There was another one about seven minutes away from there. I hoped I wasn’t going to be too late for the service, but I decided to go ahead and try it. Pulling up, I I saw the sign that said services actually started at 10:30, so I was right on time. When I got inside, I was floored at the amount of love that met me. Women didn’t just shake hands, they hugged, and there wasn’t a single person in the tiny congregation of about 30 people who didn’t come to greet me. I felt incredibly welcomed and right at home from the moment I arrived.
Not only was the church filled with God’s love, it was filled with His Spirit as well. The pastor preached a message that was exactly like I had been used to hearing: one that spoke into my life in a personal way. The pastor let us know that he works hard to study and hear exactly what God wants him to preach for every service, so the messages are tailored for those who sit under his shepherding. He preaches the whole Bible, exhorts us to evangelize to reach the lost with the gospel, and admonishes us to be in repentance for sin. He loves us and prays for us daily, and we love him and his family and pray for them as well.
I have been at my church for over a year and a half now. We go three times per week: twice on Sunday and one on Wednesday nights. We sing hymns, pray at the altars, anoint the sick with oil, and worship God out loud with our hands raised. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am worshiping the way He built me to worship, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m at home in a church.
My city has hundreds of churches in several denominations. I never would have found the tiny little Pentecostal church on my own. He sent me the church that was perfect for me, and He can do the same for you. If you don’t already have a church that you can call home, ask Him to find one for you. There ARE good churches left today, and God knows where they are.