Although all churches are different, in reality, there are a number of similarities. So much so that some generalizations can be made which will portray their character. But, what church type should you attend?
Three common types of churches
I believe that there are three common Churches, which can summarily be classified as follows:
- Sermonettes for Christinettes,
- Gospel and an altar call, and
- Expositing the Bible.
Of the three, you will grow more in your knowledge and understanding of God and His word in those churches which exposit the Bible.
Clearly, Christians are “not to forsake the assembly of believers” as commanded in Hebrews 10:25. Equally clear, the people are the church – “ekklesia” the called-out ones.
So, it should come as no surprise that “church” is a big part of a Christian’s life.
Now what’s interesting, is that without even going deeper, you can tell a lot about a church, simply by going to a service and understanding these three models. But of the various church types, which one should we attend.
Sermonettes for Christinettes
Many of the notable large churches are what I call “Sermonettes for Christinettes” churches.
They’re easily recognized. They’re extremely popular and usually well attended. They can be anything from “name it and claim it” to the church all the soccer moms attend.
They typically have sermon topics such as “7 keys to a happy marriage” or “5 ways to succeed in the business world” or “How to be joyful under any circumstance” etcetera, etcetera. In other words, secularized Christianity.
Bible versions? They use all available bible versions. Why? Because there is at least one version will say what they want it to say. Usually, no bibles are required or even recommended at church, since they never know which version will be needed to prove their point. Consequently, you wouldn’t be able to follow the service if you had a specific version.
They effectively follow the faux biblical concept of “I can prove all things with a verse out of context.”
These are the apostate churches.
They are the ones which will tickle your ears and the scripture refers to as 2 Timothy 4:3 churches “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Stay clear of these churches. Not only will you be learning unsound biblical concepts, but you will also be exposed to the teachings of the world which is ruled by the Prince of this earth.
The Gospel and an Altar Call
Many churches, which are not apostate churches, follow the format of the “Gospel and an Altar Call.”
Each year, you will potentially hear 52 sermons about salvation, each of which will be combined with an altar call.
This is not accidental. In fact, these churches feel they are called to do this and their seminaries train their pastors to do just this – conceive of a sermon using scripture that shares the gospel – lost, repent, believe and found, and with the proper background music, and everyone standing with heads bowed, “come on down and accept the free gift of salvation.”
Sounds good. Billy Graham used the same technique for years and years. It was emotionally moving and many came down to ask Christ into their lives.
Problem is, how many are true conversions?
When Nicodemus asks how to be born again, part of Christ’s answer stated “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” In other words, it is a sovereign work of God. It is not some cookie-cutter technique to be applied to each church service.
Another problem, no one learns any other scriptural doctrines and truths since the rest of the Bible is ignored.
A member can go for years and literally not know anything about the Bible. Sad!
Paul was successful. Surely Paul used this technique.
Well, not if you listen to Paul.
In 2 Cor 2:1, he says “I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” In other words, he just taught the Bible without all the soft background music, come on down appeals, and emotional stories.
Also, in 2 Timothy 4:2 he commands “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”
Really? Yes, just preach the word? That’s the calling of the church.
Remember, Christ said “all that the father has given me, I will lose none” John 6:37. That will be true, in spite of not exclusively preaching the salvation gospel and following up with an altar call.
Exposit the Bible
The minority of churches will actually teach the Bible – verse by verse.
How is anyone saved by just expositing the Bible?
Actually, Romans 10:17 is clear “…faith comes from hearing the message…” All of the Bible is empowered by the Holy Spirit and able to save and convict. Even without our help!!!
In other words, preach the whole bible.
Since salvation is the sovereign work of God, the Holy Spirit will take care of salvation and the pastor/elder, who is to be a shepherd, will be able to teach his flock the entire truth of the Bible.
Not just those parts that work into a salvation message.
Unfortunately, this type of church is the rarest.
But it’s worth encouraging at your church or moving on.
If you are in a Sermonette for Christianette church – get out!
If your church only preaches the gospel with an altar call, encourage the leadership to teach the whole bible or look for another church.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a salvation message and altar call, in and of itself. What’s wrong is only doing this – to the exclusion of the rest of the Bible.
And saying “that’s what Bible study is for” is not sufficient. Usually, only the core believers go to Bible studies and they are the very ones who are already studying the Bible.
The Bible commands us to preach the whole bible. Salvation is a sovereign work of God himself and all of the words of God are able to save.
What’s tragic is that no one knows anything. If you don’t know the truth, it’s that much easier to be deceived by Satan and to be ineffective in your Christian walk.
Granted, there is no perfect church.
But at least consider what is going on in your church and prayerfully ask for guidance and direction.