Church Shopping?

There are 7 Comments

Bert Perry's picture

Looking through Olson's list of criteria, it strikes me that his family is something of a tough crowd to please.  :^)

Seriously, I see a number of poor excuses for preaching, and I see a lot of praise music that really isn't sung and played with the congregation in mind.  I participate on my church's praise team from time to time, and the two big gaps I see are that the songs don't have a lot of doctrinal content, and the singers often don't work to connect with the congregation.  Regarding the first, it's generally that so much music is the response, emotionally speaking, to God--and to have that, don't we need some doctrine that would remind us of His attributes?  So it's an unbalanced set of music, IMO.

I also appreciate Olson's comments on the preaching, as it seems to reflect something I've noticed; that too many pastors are not really preaching the Word, but are more or less hopping on the soapbox they were given back in Bible college or seminary.  It's something that will really inhibit one's outreach to groups that aren't in that orbit, and I believe it impedes the process by which a church reaches out to its neighborhood.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


Looking at Olson's criteria, I do wonder what church would match them? That list is a pretty tall order!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.

dcbii's picture


Since his points 7 and 9 are more or less mutually-exclusive, i.e. "concerned with social justice" vs "not caught up in politics," I think depending on how he means #7, he is unlikely to find what he is looking for.  Any church I visited that made a point of being "concerned with social justice" would pretty much make my list of a church to never be seen in again.  That's just a flip side of the "Christian nationalism" coin.  True justice, which is blind, is not "social justice" at all, but is just to all of society.

If he ever finds a church that meets the 10th point of "focused on God, Jesus Christ, salvation, discipleship and spiritual depth," there will be no time for being "concerned with social justice."  When we are focused on what God expects from us, actual justice, not the social kind, will come naturally from that.

Dave Barnhart

josh p's picture

In my experience, some of those things are nearly mutually exclusive. Also, some of them are at odds with scripture. He apparently wants things to be somewhat (or mostly?) biblical with the deviations being his particular ones.



I do agree that most churches that I have visited have had pretty bad preaching. It may a somewhat regional thing but there is rarely any kind of connection to the passage of scripture being supposedly studied.   

Mark_Smith's picture

If I were as dogmatic as Olson is about being an anti-Calvinist free will Baptist Arminian I wouldn't even dream of moving to a town without a church I knew in advance I liked. So what is the deal? Either he knows no such church exists, or he places the location of his retirement over his theology. Weird.


T Howard's picture

If I spoke to a new attender and that person gave me this list of qualifications that they were looking for in a church, I'd tell him/her to move along. Seriously, this is the list of a nitpicker. This person will always find something wrong or a reason why he/she can't become fully involved in your church. Instead, this person will be content to sit on the sidelines and nitpick everything he/she finds wrong with your church and expect you to change for them.

I had to deal with such a person for two years in our church. Before coming to our church, he and his wife were asked to leave their former church because he would pick fights with one of their elders over differences in eschatology. In speaking with the elders of his former church, I learned this was a repeating pattern. He had left a church before going to their church over similar issues.

While attending our church, he sent me several emails complaining about what was taught / not taught from the pulpit and about a specific teacher he didn't like who led one of our ABFs he attended. He also complained when he wanted to teach a class in our church but was told no because he refused to become a member of our church. I met with him and his wife a couple times to discuss his concerns. He finally left and wrote an online review of our church in which he complained about what he perceived to be a "concerning shift" away from our fidelity to biblical eschatology.

On top of that, he emailed after he left that review and said he wanted to continue to dialog with me about his concerns.

I didn't respond to his repeated emails. Avoid these types of people. Don't welcome them into your church.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I had a similar couple in our church.  The man would write me letters about what he perceived was wrong, and what I should be preaching about.  We were patient for several years, meeting with him to discuss his concerns, and endeavoring to help him understand our perspective.  The letters would stop for several months, and then another would arrive.  We'd had enough.  I met with him over lunch, listened to his "concerns" patiently again, and then told him, nicely, that he needed to find another church.  He looked shocked!  They stayed, and we had no more letters, complaints, or trouble again.  They are still with us after more than thirty years.  Who'd have predicted such an outcome?

G. N. Barkman