We need to join a church that suits our real needs.
That can help us on our journey of faith.
Help build our Christian faith. Grow our belief in God.
Christian ‘denominations’ and the way they relate to each may vary, to some extent, from country to country. Therefore it is not possible to provide a complete and exact listing to guide all readers, across the world, in choosing a church. Also be aware that many denominations, to varying degrees, consider themselves superior to others. We cannot completely take human nature out the Church!
And look, the fellowship of faith that suits us today may not suit us at a later date. I, for example, consider that I have been ‘led’ through different areas of the greater Christian Church as the years have passed. They all proved to be beneficial to me in their own ways. No matter what area of the greater Church we choose to attend, our lives should still be changed for the better, especially in that area of ‘building belief and faith’. And that is the underlying theme of this website.
(I am from a senior auditing background and the majority of my advisory team are Christian clergy. To glimpse the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
2. GUIDING THE DECISION
That all said, our chosen church will have an impact on our faith journey.
And I do think most Christian denominations have ‘elements’ that make them more suitable than others for each of us. That particularly applies when taking our individual personalities, our positions of faith journey (e.g. beginner Christian) and our personal backgrounds into account.
What follows is a brief summary of available church options, to the best of my knowledge, and how they may be grouped together when making a choice. Many churches do have websites, facebook accounts etc. And these can be viewed to gain ‘some idea’ of their approach. Their actual position within the greater Christian Church should also become obvious after a few attendances of their services.
I only have one MAJOR request for you, the reader, in search of a suitable church. I would hope that any church chosen should follow the “Essential Christian Beliefs” as presented in the website’s final section’s first article, “Christianity explained”. I am suggesting you just read one sub-section (Heading 2) in that article. Yes, I recommend it to you before going in search of the church that is ideal for you.
Finally, I must add that the choice of a fellowship of faith, i.e. a church, is an issue for God and each one of us. Although it might look a bit ‘foreign’ to a beginner Christian, I suggest you the reader ‘ask for the Lord’s guidance‘ on this matter of choice through prayer.
Let’s have a look at the types of churches on offer then.
3. TRADITIONAL PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC CHURCHES
Traditional/ mainline Protestant, together with Catholic, churches are included in this grouping. These churches, by and large, present moderate Christian views to their congregations. Catholics have a little extra ‘doctrine’ and ‘sacraments’ than do Protestants. It is related to the way beliefs, and services, are presented there. But that does not create any serious conflict between these two major areas of the Church.
Membership in the majority of these churches, by and large, offers an exposure to: balanced Christian theology; an understanding of faith and its effects within Christian life; ‘some evidence of God’s presence‘ in that setting; a good proportion of caring supportive Christians in their congregations.
3.1 Avoid ‘over-liberal’ Protestant churches
However, bear in mind that a very small minority of traditional/ mainline Protestant churches hold over-liberal (TOO liberal) views on the Christian New Testament (Jesus bits of the Bible). And I do not see much point at all with strong Christian ‘liberalism’. That can include having Christian beliefs ‘watered-down’ to a point where even ‘spirituality’ itself may not have a place there.
I am totally confident that any sensible thinker can ‘largely’ accept New Testament (NT) events, as written. My opinion here is even backed to some extent by available secular (non Christian) ‘historical information‘ from around that era. Core ‘spiritual’ beliefs are essential to Christian practise.
Although there is no need to ‘water-down’ the NT, there is a need to hold individual verses in the context of the bigger NT picture, i.e. balanced theology. And traditional/ mainline Protestant churches generally offer this view. This also applies to Catholic churches of course.
3.2 Will it suit you?
I believe people who like to make their own decisions on faith, after analysing ‘facts’ offered to them from their church, should feel comfortable within traditional Protestant and Catholic churches. For example these churches do not generally hold ‘fundamentalist’ views on the pre-Jesus, Old Testament (OT). And, they generally accept modern scientific theories such as the ‘Big Bang’ and ‘evolution’. They do not consider such theories conflict at all with their theology, or faith for that matter.
But their theologians undeniably accept that solid links of wisdom exist between the two sections of the Bible. God did ensure that the NT was built on the foundations of the OT. Please see the article, “Our amazing Bible” for a simple explanation of how Bible contents should be interpreted and how they do fit together.
3.3 Types of services offered
Services in traditional churches (including Catholic) are usually formalised and follow set routines, i.e. ‘spontaneity’ is limited throughout services. Therefore, services are often limited in their passion and excitement. Hmmm … yes … they can be a bit ‘flat’ at times. But I can personally put up with that, because I am a ‘thinker’ myself, and their theological outlook fits my personality.
Note however, that some of these traditional Protestant and Catholic churches DO offer services relative to the ‘Charismatic movement‘ and these are discussed later in this article. Those particular churches generally deliver a bit more ‘energy’ and emotion in their related services. God’s presence, in the ‘person of the Holy Spirit‘, is certainly more obvious in these types of services as well. And yes, old auditor me, really does mean that! The next article in this section of the website, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” expands on that aspect. Remember though it can take a few enquiries to find traditional/ mainline churches that offer these so-called “Charismatic” services in your area, i.e. locally.
4. EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT CHURCHES
Evangelical Protestant churches, particularly those founded in later times, are often more upbeat than most traditional/ mainline churches. They can be very positive advocates for Christianity.
Evangelical churches seem to me to have more crisp, clear Bible-based beliefs that place demands on their fellowships. For example, they often emphasise the importance of accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour; and changing our way of life as a result. Without doubt there is also a lot of hidden ‘grunt’ in the Bible. Stuff in there that can really help us to actually believe in God’s existence. It does take some time to get there though. To decipher it and then understand the ‘big picture’ stuff within it. Lots of Bible reading and sound explanations from expert clergy are needed.
The services, of many of these churches, can also offer more intimate connections with God. Prayers within their services sometimes seem to converse with God as a loving friend. Their songs of praise can have a similar nature.
Many evangelical churches, particularly in the USA, also have a Charismatic theme (again, more on this element follows, under Heading 5).
4.1 Will it suit you?
Many of these churches, on a worldwide basis, are not fundamentalist by nature. But on the other hand some can be. And I understand that this is more likely in the USA.
Fundamentalist churches, as their name suggests, are very ‘dogmatic’ and demanding with their doctrine and are at odds with some modern scientific theory (both Evolution and Big Bang as examples). And look, I definitely accept that fundamentalists have a right to their opinions!
These fundamentalist churches do sit well with people who prefer everything to be laid out in so-called “black and white”, with no need for analysis or ‘soul searching’.
4.2 Types of services offered
Evangelical churches, whether moderate or fundamentalist, whether Charismatic or not, appeal to people who want to feel good about their Christian faith and be uplifted by their experiences there. This works well for a lot of people after all. I know it does for me.
These churches also place high importance on their Bible-based theology.
5. PENTECOSTAL/ CHARISMATIC CHURCHES
Almost all Pentecostal churches are linked to the larger Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement. Pentecostal churches have become particularly prevalent since the mid nineteen hundreds. It all actually began in the early twentieth century in California, USA.
A lot of Pentecostal churches offer balanced theology once again to their congregations. But others are fundamentalist in nature.
Finally, I have added details later, under this heading, about churches in the Charismatic movement.
5.1 Pentecostal churches’ positive spiritual nature
Their services are again emotional, energetic and uplifting.
They are often led by the church leader in a way that encourages an ‘openness’, within the congregation, to the presence of God in the ‘person of the Holy Spirit‘. And I mean in a definite manner that other church groupings do not. Even Charismatic fellowships in Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical churches generally do not do so, in such a deliberate way.
In any case, Pentecostal churches are certainly more likely to centre their services around the Christian spiritual experience, i.e. the direct connection with ‘God’s presence‘. As an ex-atheist I understand how non-believers might react to such a statement. But when you do deliberately open yourself to actually experience this stuff, you will ask what else can it be there OTHER THAN the Holy Spirit interacting with the congregation? You can feel it, at times … absolutely yes … and some stuff can absolutely ‘rock your socks’. In fact I add a lot more about this in following articles, within this section of the website.
Their Pentecostal outlook, which focuses directly on the Holy Spirit in action, does encourage very strong belief and faith among followers. The emotional and very spiritual nature of services may seem great for some folk, but not for others.
I really enjoy the company of Pentecostal worshippers when I attend their services.
5.2 Highly spiritual or musical themes in some Pentecostal churches
But there are some Pentecostal churches where theology is not much of a focal point at all.
On the other hand, some Pentecostal churches really concentrate on their songs … again at the expense of limited Bible teachings etc. And they may limit their Holy Spirit interactions as a result too.
Mind you, in the case of churches concentrating heavily on the Holy Spirit, it is unlikely that it will slow the development of our ‘belief in God’. Clearly because of the Holy Spirit’s more obvious interaction within services etc.
People who are drawn to Pentecostal churches that concentrate on ‘songs of praise’ normally enjoy the deep loving atmosphere, between the Lord and themselves, that builds up and up during their services. They offer super-bonding experiences as such.
So yes, I do realise that many people are ‘wired’ in a way that attracts them to these types of church. Firstly, they may enjoy the ‘rush’ of being touched by the Spirit and experiencing him in action there in the service, or being uplifted by singing songs of praise to the Lord. Secondly, not everybody does want to study the Bible in great depth. This often applies to people who have a ‘hands on’ approach to life in general. They may only want to know the essentials. I believe that most of these churches do in fact deliver that level of understanding to their fellowships.
And I guess God knows that too, and works with it as a result.
5.3 Charismatic churches
As mentioned previously, some traditional/ mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches offer so-called Charismatic services. That is they too are members of the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement. These churches offer events relevant to ‘the movement’ but generally operate within the confines of a definite balanced Christian theology.
I did spend a number of years in Protestant churches, that were in ‘the movement’. And I witnessed/ experienced the same sort of ‘powerful‘ and ‘spiritual‘ events that I had in Pentecostal churches. My own belief building, in particular, went completely ‘gangbusters’ there. Seriously so!
As I have also mentioned elsewhere in this website, from my experiences, a period of fellowship spent within any Pentecostal or so-called Charismatic congregation can be very useful. It can effectively ramp up the growth of our ‘belief in god’s existence‘ which in turn supports the growth of our ‘Christian faith‘ and its use to ‘transform our lives‘!
The Pentecostal, and other churches that belong to the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement, provide the opportunity to witness events as they would have occurred in the early Christian Church 2,000 years ago. I mean as described in the Bible. These events often result from the so-called, “gifts of the Spirit” that manifest themselves within their services. Yes, begin to read about it in the following article. Please firstly read on with this article though …
Now, do NOT rule out the possibility of any of those events detailed above actually happening. I know I did, and I was wrong! I admit it. The following article, in this section of the website, describes the use of these ‘gifts’ and their outcomes.
Before moving on, I really want to make it clear again that I do not intend to downplay the relevance of traditional/ mainline or evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches, which have no involvement with the Charismatic movement, in these current times. Without doubt, even in this moderate Christian setting, some serious although more ‘subtle belief building‘ stuff can be experienced. And that is further explained later in this section of the website.
But, although not mandatory at all, if you do want access to events and even experiences to build solid ‘belief in God’s presence or his existence’, then the movement is the place for you to worship. The fellowships of faith there should provide you with sound evidence that, when evaluated within the ‘framework‘ offered in this website, will deliver rock-solid belief in the Lord. Of course that will come through actually ‘experiencing’ the Holy Spirit for yourself.
Continue to the next article, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit”.
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