Please read the previous article in the Christianity and Fitness series: Getting off of the Couch.

I’ve moved a lot in my life. Looking back, it seems that one of the hardest things to find is a new church. Finding a church is difficult because there are so many flavors. Some of the choices include: traditional, conservative, contemporary, non-denominational, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, pentecostal, and Bible churches. The choices seem endless when moving to a new town, and the first few months are undoubtedly spent church shopping.

Just like finding a church is difficult, finding a gym is difficult as well (although some churches are fortunate enough to have gyms). There are also many types of gyms. Not all gyms are for everybody, so it is important to do “try out” memberships and thorough gym walkthroughs before making a decision.

Whether finding a new church or a new gym, several problems will arise that will inevitably cause conflict when finding that new facility.

The Problems With Finding a Church

There are many problems when finding a church, whether the problems are internal or external. Within this section I will discuss guilt trips, conflicting beliefs, people, music, and preaching.

The Guilt Trip

Sometimes you’ll hear them from the church. Sometimes you’ll hear them from friends and family. Inevitably, it seems, someone is pushing you to make a decision to pick a church in the form of a guilt trip.

One time I went to a church where the pastor stated, “If you can’t find God in this church, you won’t find Him anywhere else.” That pastor them went on to rip on “church shoppers” and how people just need to pick a church.

Giving someone a guilt trip over finding a church is hindering that person’s very personal decision. Finding a church is not a small feat. The criteria for finding a church is different for every individual. Some may need small groups, a church friendly towards children, and perhaps a good music service.

There does come a time to persuade somebody to find a church, but it more-or-less boils down to if the person is using finding a church as a cop-out for not attending. In other words, the person justifies not going to church because no church is good enough.

There is a point when one needs to make a decision, but a home church is very important to spiritual growth. It comes down to this: find a church that will allow one to grow and shine rather than wither and hide.

Conflicting Beliefs

It is important to find a church that has similar beliefs when compared to yours. For example, if one is opposed to speaking in tongues, it wouldn’t be very wise to pick a pentecostal church.

Other beliefs need to be met as well. The church should have similar beliefs regarding giving, marriage, divorce, salvation, ministry, legalism, and servitude (to name but a few). In my case, for example, I won’t go to a church that has compulsive giving or a legalistic mindset when it comes to ministry. I once went to a church that required the disowning of a television in order to join the ministry.

Finding a church that has similar beliefs is a must. Otherwise, the differences between the church’s beliefs and your beliefs will be amplified over time and just cause further conflict. These differences might even hinder spiritual growth.

The People

The people of a church make up the church. A different way of putting this is, the members of the church are the church. When first visiting a church, it is necessary to do a lot of observing of the people. How to the people interact? Are they friendly? Are they welcoming? How young or old are the people?

The people of a church is the determining factor of whether you’ll feel left out or not. If you don’t feel immediately welcome by the people of the church, chances are you won’t feel welcome for a while. One other thing worth mentioning is the age of the people. An older church is typically geared towards older people, while a younger church is geared towards younger people. Some might argue that an older church (where young people are scarce) is a sign that the church is dying.

In any case, I don’t think that it’s wrong to judge a church based on the people within that church because a church and its people are one in the same. Find a church where you are comfortable with the people.

The Music

For many people, music is the deciding factor on whether or not to go to a particular church or not. In retrospect, I myself have chosen not to go to certain churches based on the music.

For some, music is very important. It sets the mood for the rest of the service, and helps set a worshiping atmosphere. A good music service helps replenish the soul and prepares the heart to hear that day’s sermon.

So what is a good music service? I would explain, but my explanation would be very different from yours. Every person is different, and every person expects different things out of the church music — some might prefer hymns, while others might prefer contemporary worship.

Music sets the stage for the pastor, so it is important to find a church where one finds the music to be enjoyable.

The Preaching

The last problem I will discuss with regards to finding a church is the preaching. If a church was an iceberg, then the preaching would probably be the part above water. The preaching is a very visible attribute for any given church.

Not only does the preaching have to match a person’s beliefs, but the style of preaching must match a person’s interest. For example, some people prefer to be preached at, while others prefer to be taught.

Finding a church with a preaching style you can agree with is essential. The preaching is what helps a Christian learn and grow.

The Problems With Finding a Gym

A good church helps with spiritual growth. A good gym will help with physical growth. Just as there are problems with finding a good church, there are problems with finding a good gym. Within this section I will discuss guilt trips, conflicting beliefs, people, and the actual facility.

The Guilt Trip

It’s rather easy to receive a guilt trip with regards to going to the gym. All one has to do is go to the checkout lane in the local supermarket and look at the various magazine covers. On those covers are the most fit (and best looking) people on the planet.

The numerous infomercials on TV and fad-diets don’t help as well. On top of the obvious guilt trips, one also has parents, siblings, and friends all pushing towards getting into the gym. It’s enough to make someone extremely self-conscious.

It’s important, however, to ignore the guilt trips. Going to the gym is a personal decision and one you’ll have to live with for years if you stick it out. Go to the gym for yourself first, and then for others.

The People

The people in a gym are important. Some like to find a gym where they’ll go unnoticed, and some like to find a gym where there’s a support-group type atmosphere. For example, some women choose to go to women-only gyms because it makes them feel more comfortable. Some join groups such as Weight Watchers on top of going to gyms.

Just as the people of a church make up the church, the people of a gym make up the gym. If you go to any gym long enough, you’ll soon become familiar with a lot of the people there. You might even strike up a few friendships.

The people of the gym may determine how intimidated you feel, how comfortable you feel, or how self-conscious you feel. It is important to find a gym where you’ll be comfortable, no matter what your current fitness level is.

The Facility

The actual gym facility is not as important as what you plan to do within the facility. For example, do you place a heavy emphasis on cardiovascular workouts, or free-weights? Would you rather play tennis and racquetball? Would you like a place where you can do some indoor swimming?

As you can see from the examples, you need to choose a gym based on what you plan to do with the gym. If you like free-weights, it wouldn’t be wise to pick a gym with nothing but workout machines.

Conclusion

There are many similarities when finding a church and finding a gym. Whether finding a church or a gym, it is necessary to find the facility that will promote growth. Finding common interests, beliefs, and goals is important when searching for that facility.