College is almost over, time flies, you know the story. I found the church I would spend my college years at within a few weeks of moving to Abilene. I am a different person than I was in 2010, with my spiritual growth being the biggest influencer of that. It all came through relationships, leadership submitted to God, and of course, Jesus. I attended Beltway Park Baptist Church over the past years, becoming very involved in the college ministry. Beltway is a church that has vision and that truly makes a difference for a lot people.
I do love my church, but not to a point where that is my goal. The goal, being to love Jesus and love people because it is the church that has helped me realize this truth, with a college ministry being fueled by the desire to Encounter Jesus, Embrace the church, Engage His mission. I feel prepared for whatever may come next in my life as my wife and I head to Austin, Tx for my new job in a few weeks.
This brings up the question, what does my church look like? I know I want to be a part of one because I know the impact community can have on your life and your walk with the Lord. So here I go, trying to figure out where I need to end up in Austin.
- Doctrine I agree with. This could go without saying, but this is one thing I think nobody should compromise on. We all need a church with similar beliefs which in turn, will have people with similar beliefs. My main beliefs being that Jesus died for our sins and that we need to believe in Him and that He did that because of His overwhelming love for us. Also, that God is Holy and one part of the trinity, along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I could go on, but that is the gist.
- Belief in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is very much alive today and He wants to draw people closer to the Father. I want a church that believes He is not just a thing of the past, but a powerful force today, meant to encourage the body of Christ. This includes the spiritual gifts(1 Corinthians 12). I’ve seen some amazing things that have moved people’s hearts and what better way to see that Christianity is not man-made than to see the Spirit moving in power.
- Small Groups. A small group, being a group of people who meet regularly to build relationships with other follower’s of Jesus and go deeper into the Lord. We do things such as worship, prayer, discussion, and just ministering to each other in whatever way we need. This is something I’ve done in college, beyond just attending church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Having also gotten to lead one of these groups, I have seen their impact on lives as well as growing me in spiritual leadership.
- Discipleship. I need a church where this is important and vital to it’s ministry. Discipleship just means doing what Jesus did, walking with people in a smaller and more specific group, making followers of Him. I’ve had the opportunity to be discipled and to disciple and it has greatly impacted my life. Unfortunately, for most of my life there hasn’t been someone there who was ready to pour into me, aside from my parents, nor has it been something I thought I needed. Now, I know it is something I need and the church needs it just as much.
- Modern Worship. Okay, this last one is more of a big preference, but I find it much easier to encounter the Lord singing songs that are relevant and fresh. I mean this more in a musical standpoint, because God hasn’t changed, and either way, we will still be singing about His glory, majesty, and love, etc… For me, worship can mean a big band or a small acoustic performance as long as hearts are focused on the pursuing the Lord. To be more clear, hymns are harder to engage in on a deep level for me, I would much rather prefer a song by Bethel, Hillsong, Will Reagan, or Phil Wickham.
I’m sure I could think of more, but these are the big ones that stick out in my mind. Although this blog post is about church for the most part, what really matters is relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, I don’t want to go to a church because it works best for me, I want to go where the Lord is calling me.