Some choose to shop for churches like selecting their favorite flavor of ice cream or trying on several articles of clothing to find the best fit. Some will make a mental list that might look like this: worship, people, sermon, pastor, building & available ministries and then they will rate one church from the next. Church #1 has a nice building and the sermon was great, but worship seemed flat and they don't have a kid's program. Church #2 had dynamic worship and the people were quite friendly, but the pastor was standoffish and the sermon boring.
As Christians we must remember two important things that are represented by the Cross of Christ: the VERTICAL aspect which is our relationship with God and the HORIZONTAL aspect which is our relationship with our neighbor, specifically other Christians (Matthew 22:36-40).
GOD (Vertical): in the form of Jesus Christ, is our Lord, King and Master. While we do have a Bridegroom-Bride relationship with Him (Ephesians 5:25-27), He also calls upon us to hear His voice (John 10:27) and obey what He tells us (John 14:15). If He truly is the Lord of our lives, then we must submit all major decisions to Him and then patiently wait upon Him to reveal His will. Where we attend Church is a significant decision thus we must lay down our own will, preferences and personal desires and ask our Lord “where do YOU want me to attend Church?”
If you’re anything like me, it takes multiple miraculous confirmations to be sure that the will of God is being revealed in big decisions and I urge you: don’t be afraid to ask our wondrous God for them! Think of Gideon who deemed himself unworthy of leading God’s army and thus laid out a fleece for God to make wet with dew while the ground was dry, and then to make it dry while the ground was wet with dew (Judges 6:36-40). I advise you to lay out your own “fleece” before God and ask Him to confirm before you join Gateway.
Here is why seeking God’s will in this matter is important: if you attend a church for any reason based on the self (personal preferences), man, or the works of man they will both fall short sooner or later because imperfect self/man is, well, imperfect. For example, if you become a member of a church because you like the style of worship, what happens when the leadership decides to change the music and its presentation? Say you really like the Pastor and/or his preaching—what happens when he moves on and another Pastor takes his place? Maybe you went because you have family and/or friends there who invited you . . . but then they stop going or move away . . . so now what?
If you are drawn to a church by anything like this then sooner or later they will end, fall short or change and the foundation you’re standing upon is one of sand and not rock.
Jesus Christ is the Rock (Matthew 7:24-25, 16:18) and if you stand upon a revelation-based command that He has given you then your “house” will not wash away when the “storms” come. If our Lord has told you to come to Gateway, for example, then people may come and go, worship may change, etc., but you will know that you are in will of God by being there and will be able to remain deeply rooted even though the winds of change are blowing. Both in Scripture and in real life, only deeply rooted plants and trees bear FRUIT (2 Kings 19:30). Uprooted plants and trees are stunted in their growth and produce little or nothing (Matthew 13:6, 21).
NEIGHBOR. What is the purpose of the Church? Answer: to SERVE. Before Jesus came here to earth, He was Almighty God in Heaven, sitting on the throne and ruling over all. He created the Heavens and the earth and all should bow down to Him, worship Him, and serve Him. Yet when He came here to walk among us, He came to be a servant of all mankind and told His disciples to follow His example (Matthew 20:25-28).
We serve first and foremost by spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom to others (Matthew 28:19) and by helping out at Church ministries, activities & outreaches. Those who have been sent by Jesus Christ through divine revelation will come with a “I’m here to serve God and His Church!” attitude and will bear much fruit by being a blessing to God and to others.
So here are the two most important questions you must ask and have answered to know whether Gateway Fellowship is the right Church for you:
1) Is it the will of Jesus Christ that you become a member of Gateway?
2) What gifts, skills, etc. has God blessed you with that He would like you to be using to spread His Kingdom?
Te recap, you know the Lord Jesus has called you to Gateway. Next: a full-fledged member of Gateway will be a born-again Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, seeking the Holy Spirit, and have been Baptized in water (or intend to be soon) (John 3:3, Acts 2:4, Acts 22:16).
Q: Do I have to be a born-again Christian to ATTEND Gateway?
A: No! Our doors are open for all to attend, but I warn you that we will share the Gospel with you as our Lord commanded us to do and sooner or later guide you toward membership and service.
Second, you’ve read and agreed with our Mission Statement, What We Believe, Meet the Pastor & Tithing FAQ and have no major theological disputes with any.
Third, you promise to pray for Gateway a whole and your Pastor. Pray for blessing, protection, revelation & holiness.
Fourth, you attend & complete the Membership Class.
Last, you don’t stop. Stay hungry for the presence, love, power and holiness of Jesus. Devour His Word, the Bible, always reading and meditating on the Scriptures and increasing your understanding of them. Stay involved in the Church and what’s happening there. Form ties with the people of Gateway that you might have strong fellowship, encouragement, counsel and accountability. Let’s make this journey together until the day comes when we can look up, for our redemption draws near!
Pastor Scott here! If you haven't already, I recommend you read our Statement of Vision, What We Believe, Meet the Pastor & Family, Pastor Scott's Testimony, and our teaching about Tithing which will give you a basis for who we are as a Church. Thanks! After you've had the chance to do so and have no major theological disputes, then it's time to ask: is it God's will that you come to Gateway?