The Pastor’s Piece – June 9, 2024

The Pastor’s Piece

June 9, 2024

I’ve been doing some marriage counseling via Zoom for a couple who live out of state who are getting married soon. It’s kind of a unique situation. I am not officiating at their wedding, but they still wanted me to give them premarital counseling (the groom is a member of Martintown Church, but they are getting married in the South). After they are married, they will be living in Pennsylvania where they both have jobs waiting. One of the questions they asked me during a session was what advice could I give them on how to find Christian friends in their new community. Speaking from my own experience I told them the best way is to first, find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church and begin attending. You might ask, aren’t all churches Bible-believing and Bible-teaching? The answer is no, they are not. Some churches don’t teach anything near what the Bible teaches. And some churches teach the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.

A simple way to determine if your church is a Bible-teaching church, is to observe its practices. Look and see how many people actually carry a Bible inside with them. This is a good indicator of whether the Bible will be used during the service or not. Once the sermon starts, does the pastor refer to Scripture and ask you to turn to certain passages as he teaches through them? How often does he reference the Bible during his messages? I understand that in this age of technology, some people will bring a Bible app up on their phone and use that instead of an
actual hard copy. That’s fine, but they’re not going to have that app unless they have a need to use it.

A second way to find Christian friends is, after you’ve found a good church, get involved in the
activities of that church. Activities such as Sunday school, Bible studies, small groups, or
whatever else they have going on – get involved. Then as you begin to build relationships, ask
other people out to dinner or have them over to your house for game night. Get to know them.
Discover what you have in common. We have found that those relationships tend to continue
through your whole life, even if you move far away.

Thirdly, a church that is alive with the presence of the Holy Spirit will have people that are
excited about being born-again and will be full of joy and happiness at the thought of gathering
together to celebrate the goodness of God. Look for a church full of people like that.

When my wife and I were first married we moved away from these parts and settled into a home
in the desert in the great Southwest. We left Wisconsin on a Friday morning and arrived in
Phoenix, Arizona the next Sunday afternoon. We didn’t know a single soul in that city. All we
had was a phone number of a church that I had heard about and had scribbled the number
down on a little piece of paper. When we arrived, I called the number and the pastor answered. I
told him what we were up to and he gave me another number of some people in his church. I
called that number and the nice lady who answered invited us to come over and meet her and
her husband. Which we did. After our initial meeting, they offered to let us stay in their fifth
wheel camper in their backyard until we could find a place of our own. From there, it took us
about two weeks to find a job. Then another week to get paid. And another week to get our own
apartment. Soon after, I began attending Bible college.

We began attending that church regularly. When we started, we only knew one couple – and that
was the elderly couple that let us live in their camper in their backyard. But then one Sunday
after services another couple from our Sunday school class invited us out for dinner. We talked
over lunch and for a couple hours after. We found out they only lived about three blocks from us.
The next thing I knew, I was at his place one Saturday afternoon and we were replacing the
water pump in his Caprice Classic. We found out they were Cubs fans and we started attending
Spring Training games with them. About eight years later, my wife and I moved back to the
midwest. A year after we moved, they moved too, and we were neighbors again, only this time
we lived 3 ½ hours apart, but still close enough for weekend visits and cookouts. We’ve raised
our children together and now we have grandchildren together. Our main commonality is our
faith in Jesus Christ.

So, the kindness of strangers years ago is still affecting our lives today. If it wasn’t for those
generous people with the fifth wheel camper, we may not have been able to stay in Arizona. I
may not have graduated from Bible college. We may not have found our way to Martintown
Community Church where God has given us the ministry of teaching the Bible and shepherding
His flock. One never knows how their generosity may affect someone else.

So yes, find a Bible-believing church, get involved, and see where God takes you.

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin