Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
Are you planning a vacation? Check the Google Reviews so you can find the best hotels and restaurants in that area. Not happy with the service you received at that department store yesterday? Be sure and leave them a bad review on Google so others will know to avoid it. Do you own a business? Well then, don’t forget to ask your customers to leave you a good review so it will drive more business your way. What about choosing a church to attend? You guessed it, go and see what the Google Reviews are so you can make … the “right” decision? Hmm.
We have become a society that heavily depends on the internet for so many things, including helping us make decisions about where to go and what to buy, all with the help of Google Reviews. Yes, even churches that have a presence on the web receive reviews from the Google search engine. Yet, I can’t help but wonder, do people actually make decisions about attending some church based off of Google reviews? Surprisingly, I am afraid that they do!
Combing through reviews makes sense and can be helpful in many areas of our lives. For example, if someone is planning to book an Airbnb, just checking the reviews can often prevent the possibility of an uncomfortable stay. Nobody wants to go on a romantic get-a-away and then find out the room you payed for is in the basement of someone’s creepy house! But, when it comes to making decisions about religious things, depending on something like Google Reviews should certainly NOT be the criteria on which you make a decision! Reviews are nothing more than people’s opinions and opinion does not determine what constitutes a sound, Scriptural church of our Lord.
Instead of Google Reviews, what should be the criteria for identifying a church? The answer is simple. We should use the Bible and only the Bible. Within the New Testament, we can find all the identifying marks of what we should look for in a church. For example, one of the first things that should stand out is the name it uses. The Bible describes Jesus’ church as “the church of Christ’ in passages like Romans 16:16. In fact, it is always described as belonging to God or Jesus. That is because Jesus said, “I will build my church … ” in Matthew 16:18. So, does the church you are considering carry the name of Jesus? It should. That’s important to consider in your review!
Secondly, who is the “head” of the church? Colossians 1:18 says that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church … ” That means no one in the church has the authority to elevate themselves as its supreme leader. Neither do we find a central office, or headquarters, presiding over the affairs of multiple churches. Each congregation in the New Testament was autonomous, meaning they governed themselves. They were also overseen by a plurality of elders as we find in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5: 1-4 and never by one, singular “pastor” over a congregation. A true church of our Lord follows the Bible example. So, does the church you are thinking about attending have a supervising headquarters or a head “pastor”? It shouldn’t, according to the Bible. Is that mentioned in the review?
Thirdly, how does the church conduct its worship? According to Jesus, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” John 4:24). That means one must be in the right state of being and they must worship according to how God prescribed it in the Bible. We can’t have the attitude of just doing whatever we want, or adding things not authorized by Scripture. That’s why the church of Christ sings in a’cappella, for example. We follow the pattern of the New Testament. We find no examples of musical instruments being used in Christian worship until hundreds of years later, which indicates it was someone’s opinion to add them, not something approved by the Word of God. So, does the church you’re looking at follow the Scriptural pattern?
I hope you now see that matters of religion are not subject to Google Reviews. Someone’s opinion, or review about a church won’t help you get to heaven. Instead, go check it out for yourself … with your Bible in hand.