Selectsmart, belief and joining a churchPublished 9:25am Wednesday, June 4, 2014
By Rev. Bob Henderson
Ever wonder why people decide to visit a particular church, why they choose a church or why they stay?
There are probably as many different answers as there are people. Those who research that sort of thing report that denominational loyalty (chose this church because my parents/grandparents/family did) is becoming less and less a factor.
Young marrieds overwhelmingly select a church because of facilities and programs for their children. Other people select a church because of the “feel” of the community, how well they think they will fit in, i.e., “friendliness.” Some are attracted by newspaper articles, social media or mission statements.
I would hope that most people select a particular church or denomination because it helps them find, hear and move closer to God.
Recently, while perusing the internet, I found Selectsmart.com. It is billed as a website for “informative, entertaining, cool, humorous, controversial, interesting, fun and/or annoying selectors” – questionnaires which allegedly help people make decisions or “selections.” The Christian Denomination selector is billed as:
… the place where you can figure out where your Christian beliefs match up with. [sic] This is the simple, clear and accurate way to examine your beliefs and figure out which Christian denomination would be most appropriate for you.
What’s so interesting about Selectsmart is not the fact that you can use the Internet to choose a denomination or that this kind of thing is on the Internet at all. What’s interesting to me in this day and age when relationships, community and “finding a place to belong” seem so important, is that someone would choose a denomination based primarily, on how their and its announced beliefs coincide.
Not that religious belief or dogma is unimportant, you understand. Wars have been fought, people have been persecuted, tortured and killed because of differences between what various denominations believe.
The very nature of our society, especially in this country, was and continues to be influenced and shaped by the religious beliefs of various denominations.
Belief is important. And, few of us would be happy or comfortable in joining a church whose beliefs were diametrically opposed to our own. I’m just surprised, based on the other factors church shoppers have say are important, that what a particular denomination or church professes to believe is important enough to be used as a “selector” on the Internet.
However, Selectsmart can, I think, help us in another way.
We can all learn what our denomination believes or does not believe. But, that means that all of us should all take some time and ask ourselves, “What do I believe about God, Jesus, the Church and me?” And, even if we don’t want to change our denomination based on the results, the Selectsmart questionnaire can help us explore or answer that question.
The Selectsmart Christian Denomination Selection can be found on the Internet at http://www.selectsmart.com/ FREE/select. php?client= christiandenom.
Just as a sidebar, the Selectsmart Denominational selector told me that based on my answers, the denominations most suited for me are: 1: The Episcopal Church; 2: Evangelical Lutheran Church; 3: Eastern Orthodox; 4: Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; and 5: Liberal Quakerism. I must admit that the last was a surprise.
Is Selectsmart an important tool or a game? I think it can be useful, but I do not believe it tells us everything we need to know about joining a particular church.
The Rev. Bob Henderson is rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Wetumpka.