Pastor David Foster of The Gathering in Nashville, TN has compiled what we think to be the most me-centered and superficial test for evaluating a church that we've ever seen. Notice that in this list of 16 things Pastor Foster would look for in a church he never once mentions sound doctrine, Christ-Centered preaching or anything of Biblical substance. Here is Pastor Foster's list with our commentary in parentheses:
If I were looking for a church to attend in the morning, here is what I’d look for:
1. When I enter do I hear laughter?
(What about reverence? Why should we prefer laughter over reverence?)
2. Are people greeting me as a job or a joy?
(Come on'. When was the last time a church greeter gave you the same type of service you get at a post-office? If this is sooooo important to you, maybe you should fill out a Zagat survey after church and rate their customer service.)
3. Does the place look like they were expecting me?
(What does this look like? Should the church set up VIP box seats for me and my entourage?)
4. Are people buzzing as they greet each other?
(We call this the bee hive test and we have no clue what it means.)
5. Is there spirited music playing as people gather?
(What does this mean? Should we be listening for Lynard Skynard music?
6. Does the music move me?
(How me-centered and vain can you get?? So I'm supposed to show up at a church unannounced, expect to be given the VIP treatment and demand that the music move ME. What if I am only "moved" by opera music? Should I let the church know that I won't be back until they change the music to suit my 'moving' needs?" Here's a better question, "Does the music exalt Christ and what He accomplished for us on the cross or does it exalt me?"
7. Do the people on stage look real and engaged?
(We'll I guess this test rules out every church that doesn't have a stage. Furthermore, we are now supposed to think and act like Simon Cowell from American Idol. Maybe we can provide the church with post-performance feedback like, "Sorry this performance didn't do it for me. Your wardrobe was attrocious, your vocals we're pitchy and you seemed a bit nervous. I didn't feel like you we're being real and engaged. I'll be finding a different church to attend next week."
8. Are the announcements short, strategic, and to the point?
(We wouldn't want to have a single precious minute wasted having to hear about the church picnic now would we?)
9. Is there a printed outline with Scripture already printed on it?
(Ah yes. Expecting people to bring their own Bibles, flip pages, follow along and take their own notes is now a sure and certain sign that a church doesn't care about people.)
10. Does the pastor smile?
(Joel Osteen smiles a lot and he teaches false doctrine.)
11. Does the message title promise a relevant topic I am interested in?
(God has His own agenda and things He wants me to know and learn from Scripture. These are messages I need to hear whether I want to hear them or not. Going to church with the expectation that I'm going to hear a message that is relevant "to me" brushes God's truth aside and turns me into my own god.)
12. Does the pastor speak with humility and authority?
(Who cares? There are FAR more important questions that need to be answered. Questions like...Does he speak the truth? Does he rightly handle the word of God? Does he teach what is in accord with sound doctrine? Are his sermons Christ-Centered and Cross-Focused?)
13. Do I feel the presence of God?
(What does this feel like? Is it goose bumps or a liver shiver? This is pure subjectivity! How on earth does this question tell us anything?! "Sorry I can't stay at this church because I didn't get goose bumps during the sermon.")
14. Are people listening and engaged?
(The members of Jim Jone's church listened and were engaged and look what happened to them. This question tells us nothing.)
15. Is the service no more than 71 minutes?
(Me. Me. Me. It's all about ME. "I don't want to have to spend more than 71 minutes in church cause I get bored. Plus I've got precious me time scheduled for Sunday afternoon. So hurry it up Pastor!")
16. Does it pass by fast?
(See our commentary for question 15.)
This list clearly demonstrates the extent to which the me-centered, narcissistic, entertainment hungry American church has fallen. How ironic is it that a PASTOR is the one who compiled this list of questions? Aren't pastors supposed to feed us the word of God and condemn our sinful vanities and deeds and preach the transforming message of the Gospel; the message that transforms us from self-centered sinners into 'Christ-Like' children of God?
Anyone who is evaluating a church based on these criteria needs to repent of their me-centered sinful thoughts and deeds an come humbly before God and beg for his forgiveness for ever buying into such wickedness!