Just a few more words to our graduates. When you go to another city and start college, or a new career, you will (I hope) look up a nearby congregation with which to worship and serve. You may or may not find it to be similar to your congregation.
Some churches will be bigger than yours, with thousands of worshipers, a “big name” preacher, and knock-your-socks-off technology. Look beyond the outward exhibition of emotion (clapping? eyes closed in apparent ecstasy? powerful praise team?) and ask yourself if this is a time dedicated to exalting God or exalting ourselves. This is a danger warned of by Jesus himself (Matthew 6:1-18).
Do two things for me, please: first, try to look beyond the “show time” drama, strip away the obvious, and ask better, deeper questions of what they do. Just because it is new and different doesn’t make it wrong, of course, so ask a second question, the Berean question:
“Now these were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11, NASV).
“But,” someone objects, “I want the church I attend to be enthusiastic, sincere, eager to praise God!”
Good! What could be more enthusiastic than a church that listened to preaching with “great eagerness,” more sincere than Christians who “searched the scriptures daily”? You can’t read a heart, ’tis true, but you can read your Bible!
Advice for when the graduate goes to another city and looks up a nearby congregation.