by Peter G. Feenstra
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
People who are unfamiliar with the history and doctrines of the churches present in their community must be greatly confused at times. If they are thinking of joining a church, where should they go? Should they be encouraged to attend the church of their choice? It would seem natural and right to choose the church in which one feels most comfortable, a place where one can grow, become a better Christian, feel at ease, welcomed and appreciated.
Most people think church attendance and membership is strictly a matter of individual preference. For new believers, it may be difficult to discern the Shepherd’s voice, especially if they are unfamiliar with His Word. Yet as we learn to discern His voice we need to choose Comfort over comfort. The Lord does not want us worshipping in ways intended to satisfy our own needs. We may not choose a place of worship in terms of what seems best for us and our children, or what fulfills our wishes. Where we go to church is not a matter of personal taste but obedience to God.
The church which is true to its purpose lets God speak through preaching and teaching. The Bible is opened and explained. The gospel of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, through Christ’s redemption, is proclaimed. Christ is at the centre of preaching and practice.
We are called to join and remain living members of a church which feeds us with the Word of God, where the voice of the Shepherd is heard. We are not to attend the church of our choice but of His choice—where we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. As our Lord Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” The question “Where should I go to church?” is therefore first and foremost a question of “Where is the Good Shepherd? Where is He at work? Where can I hear His voice calling me?” If we want to know where the Shepherd gathers the sheep then we must see Him as He appears to us—in the garment of Scripture. If we pay attention to the behaviour of the sheep in the congregation we are bound to be discouraged and disillusioned. Our eyes are to be on the Shepherd. We are to listen to His voice. He not only gives us personal directions but He makes clear what our responsibilities are as we interact with His sheep.For further information about this resource, click here.