A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Church Universal
We look for a church that has BOTH reformational doctrine and preaches Christ to believers. We have other preferences (e.g. liturgical worship), but the two essentials are covered in that first sentence. Both parts of that statement require unpacking; here’s a start:
For us reformational doctrine is broader than any one denomination. Because we move often and doctrine is not the only factor in our decision, we may end up as part of a Presbyterian church, a Reformed Episcopal, a Lutheran church, etc.
What we mean by “preaches Christ to believers” is that the pastor should emphasize the centrality of the Gospel in the life of believers. We need to regularly hear from the pulpit about the objective work of Christ on the cross “for us and for our salvation”. The preaching of the Gospel should not be neglected nor should it be primarily for unbelievers. Regrettably, our experience has been that Christ is not preached to believers in many churches we’ve visited.
What do you do if a church affirms all the right doctrine, but fails to focus on preaching the centrality of the Gospel? If there is another body where Christ is preached to believers, we look there, even if it means giving up some doctrine. What use is doctrine if Christ be not preached?
Our approach has drawbacks (lack of commitment to one denomination, long searches for the right church, etc). I know this makes some nervous. We are open to better ideas (and bitter critiques).