By Dan Polecheck
What do you look for in a church? Most people would probably answer powerful teaching, inspiring worship, great ministries for children and teens, and relevant adult groups. You want the whole package. Yet, most Christians have a pet preference in what they want from their church. For me, it’s teaching.
The pastor of the little Baptist church I attended in Hawaii had the ability to make me feel like there was no one else listening to the message but me. It was as if every Sunday he was talking directly to me. As a result, when I have looked for a church or have visited other churches, I am always interested in the style of the teaching. I have learned over the years, however, that many Christians don’t share my preference. They deem worship, programs, and even facilities as more important. Now, we can debate what area of ministry is most important, but it comes down to personal preferences.
But, there is a church priority that we can all agree on: and that is friendship. If you would ask a new member why he or she decided to become a member, nearly every single member would say, “I love the friendliness of this church, and I’ve made some great friends. I felt like I had found a home.” It seems to me that friendships are incredibly important.
Whenever I am ever tempted to leave a church, I think of the friends that I have made and the love that I have for these people. The thought of telling certain people that I am leaving the church is honestly beyond my comprehension.
When everything is said and done, deep down, all of us value friendship and community. We can’t deny it, we can’t suppress it, and we can’t shake it. God wired all of us with a need for friendship.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15;12-17
Jesus’ words above apply to everyone—to those who have friends and to those who feel they don’t, to the extrovert and the introvert. As we seek friendship with Jesus and one another, we can develop deeper and deeper relationships.
Friendships make the church move forward.