My wife, Amber, and I were looking for a church. Every Sunday we visited a new one, hoping to find a church that was aligned with my understanding of the Bible and that was similar to Amber's Catholic upbringing. This weekly pilgrimage was an arduous task that was not very fruitful. The Internet served as a great resource, but many churches at this time had not fully begun to explore the reach and capability of this tool.
One Sunday morning, as I was flipping around the TV channels I came across a religious program called “It is Written.” The speaker, Mark Finley, came across as a knowledgeable, likable and devout Christian. As I listened, I thought to myself what a great speaker he was and how well he delivered his message. At the conclusion I waited to see the end credits to find out what church he represented and saw it was sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist church, a church I was only marginally familiar with. I jumped online to discover what their beliefs were and where the nearest church was to my neighborhood.
It took a bit of doing, as the Adventist website was not easily navigational for first time visitors. I found the beliefs of the church on one of their pages and they all echoed what I had studied and believed. Saturday was their day of worship—which was the day I believed was the right day of worship. Immediately I searched for a local congregation in the Thousand Oaks area and was directed to the church on Gainsborough Rd. The following Saturday was our first day at the church, and as they say, “the rest is history.”
The Internet Link
The Internet is a powerful resource for potential new members to discover a church’s beliefs and culture. The ability to check out the church without fear of being propositioned or coerced by aggressive parishioners is a great way to introduce people to your church. The emphasis on a comfortable atmosphere for people to come and get acquainted must come across online for the web visitors to want to visit the church.
My desire and passion to find a church with similar belief systems may not be the same as most but the Internet played a large part in allowing me to explore and investigate the many denominations out there before paying a personal visit to an actual church. I recommend it to everyone who is looking. I prayed to God everyday to lead me to the right church. The Internet was one of the components He used to answer that prayer.
Gerritt Beatty writes from Thousand Oaks, California, where he now serves as the Evangelism Coordinator for the Thousand Oaks Seventh-day Adventist Church.