Hi KP,

It sounds like you have had quite an ordeal in your dealings with the Catholic church over time! The abuse of parishioners by priests in any institution is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It is comforting to know that God will repay each according to what they have done. I’m assuming, perhaps naively, that you have spoken to other professional people about things that may have happened in the past with respect to abuse from priests. If you haven’t, can I encourage you to talk to someone, there are many quality Christian counsellors who would be good to talk to.

With the question on church, the search for the perfect church will only be over once we are safely in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the meantime, however, there are some aspects that we need to look for in a church which will help answer the question of where we fit.

Firstly, church is a place where the Word of God is opened, explained and responded to. This has been the basic pattern since the time when Israel first assembled at Mt Sinai to hear God speak and responded in fear and trembling (Exodus 19 ff). We too meet to hear God speak, this is the charge which Paul leaves to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:2;“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction” My advice would be to find a church that first and foremost teaches and upholds that the Bible is the authoritative word of God in all matters of godly living.

Secondly, church is a place where we serve and are served. 1 Cor 14 uses the language of building up other people or some translations have edifying. Take for example v12: “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church” This is important as it takes the focus on meeting together off ourselves and focuses it towards others.

And so the question then becomes, where is the best place for me to serve? This may take a while to discover at a particular gathering of God’s people. And as people get to know you and you get to know them then you will be able to serve them all the more. Church ‘hopping’ from one place to another week after week will do you and others no good. I suggest finding two or three local bible-teaching churches and attending for a few weeks before making a decision to attend one. The decision you make will not be one of right and wrong but rather of wisdom.

A friend of mine decided to move on from his church after feeling he became stale in his service and came to my local church. However after a while decided that because of the demographic of people there he was best suited somewhere else. His decision was not one of sinning or not but rather of wisdom in finding a place to serve.

Although this has been brief I hope this has been helpful for you in your struggle to find a place to serve and fit in.