Deciding the religion where we believe our faith will grow best is the most important decision of our lives. From it, we are expecting to receive the necessary guidance for our most important destination – eternal life in Heaven. This discernment takes top priority, over our choice of career or spouse and even over what nation we choose to be loyal to.1
Some Suggest a Laid-back, No-Big-Deal Approach
There has been a strange increase in popularity of the notion that Christians ought to join a church based on where they feel comfortable instead of discerning whether it teaches Truth.2,3 In a disturbing denial of humility, we are being encouraged to be our own experts. So, if we really do have it all figured out, then why bother? We can “teach” ourselves and join a congregation just for the camaraderie. (Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising because many feel that some Commandments don’t apply to them, including the one to attend church at least every Sunday and certain holy day.)
Here are two examples of the proponents for choosing a church using subjective yardsticks.
1) One site has the “Christian Denomination Selector.” It contains twenty-four questions regarding religious doctrines or practices, all having the choices “I agree,” “I disagree” and “No preference” with the ability to rate the question’s priority.4
2) “If you belong to a faith community, you’ll benefit even more if you volunteer. If you don’t belong to one, seek new places of worship that suit your current values and beliefs.”5 (emphasis added)
With minor rewording, these could easily be helpful tips on how to buy a car.
Not a Decision to be Taken Lightly
The impact of this choice goes beyond an individual’s earthly life. Deciding responsibly will require more research and discernment (especially prayer) than with any other decision. It would be easy if all Christian churches taught the same doctrine. Of course, if that were true, then there would be unity in one Church! Unfortunately, it is not true that “any church is as good as any other.”
Necessary points to consider include: what does it teach, who founded the church and with what authority, how does it guide formation of conscience, can it distinguish between unchangeable practices and those which may be altered, etc. etc. The process is not easy, but it will be worth it!
1 – As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said, “We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us. And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,” (Jeannine Hunter, www.washingtonpost.com, 10/24/2012)
2 — “The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we were not created for comfort, but for greatness, for good.” — Pope Benedict XVI, 2005, as posted on www.gelvalle.wordpress.com, 3/10/2013 and corroborated by www.catholicglasses.com, 3/31/2012 as having been said to his first audience with German pilgrims
3 – “And, we need to do our part to help promote the healing, the reconciliation, and the authentic liturgical renewal that our Pope is trying to engender. If that means that we have to come out of our comfort zones a bit, well then, so be it. Just look at the Cross and ask yourself if He would do any less for you. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say, ‘Jesus came to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.’” (John Martignoni, www.menofstjoseph.com, 11/23/2011)
4 – by Mike Hopkins, www.SelectSmart.com, November 2001. Was referred to by Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist on its WordPress.com blog, article posted on 1/7/2011
5 – “Give Yourself a Happiness Makeover,” (quote was part of item #7 in a 10-step article) by Dan Buettner, AARP-The Magazine, February/March 2013