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February 27, 2009

Obama's Hunt for a Church

The Obama's may be settling on a puppy choice, but last I checked, President Obama has not found a church to call home. He's attended some private services, but a new article in Slate concludes that his church hopping habits may not be a bad thing.

Even if the American mania for shopping extends to our spiritual lives, church shopping still doesn't get much respect. But while it may be frequently derided as an example of rampant spiritual consumerism, shopping around can be one of the good things about the way religion is practiced in America.

shopping_carts.jpg

Andrew Santella provides a nice round-up of the church shopping phenomenom, but I'm guessing his conclusion would horrify some church leaders. "In that sense, church shopping transfers a bit of power from the pulpit to the pews. And keeping a check on the power of church leaders is never a bad idea."

About 40 percent of Americans attend a religious service at least once a week while 58 percent of evangelicals do the same, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. On the other hand, 61 percent of Americans say they are a member of a congregation, and 74 percent of evangelicals say the same.

Santella concludes, "So, the president shouldn't feel any need to rush into committing to a new church. When you have so many options, it pays to shop around."

Last year, president of Fuller Theological Seminary Richard Mouw wrote a more theological piece for CT examining why church shopping isn't the worth thing in the world.

Evangelicals probably care more about Obama's church attendance than they do his new puppy--so vote about that on today's on href="http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/features/poll.html">CT's poll.

Comments

I am delighted the Obamas are taking their "spiritual life" seriously. Those gorgeous girls need a "church home" and so does the entire family.

May the Lord lead them to the right congregation...

From what I've heard about his last "church" it didn't extend any effort preaching the gospel. His attending a church would have little meaning unless he bagan to show that it was affecting his life in a Godly direction. Other than that, it would merely be window dressing.

We rightly caution people not to rush headlong into marriage. The same caution can be applied to rushing headlong into church membership. It is a personal commitment of great importance. It is of utmost importance to find a church that truly fosters true spiritual growth and maturity with emphasis on an ever-closer relationship with God. A wrong match can be toxic. There is nothing wrong with careful assessment before commitment.

Based on his record, policies and agenda I seriously doubt that he's truly saved anyway.

Even though I disagree with President Obama on abortion, I am impressed by the respect and civilty and good natured humor he has brought to the office, even to grumpy republicans. And, that speaks volumes to me. Even more his repeated, but humble public confessions of his faith in Jesus his savior far outweigh whether or not he visit numerous chruches or settles into one. I trust whatever decision he and Mrs. Obama makes it will be well thought and gracious in his explanation.

Good grief people..how many of us would already have a church "home" if we had just moved to a new city? Most likely we would do our own shopping, perhaps beginning with a denominational tie, or utilizing recommendations of friends and neighbors. I would assume that most of the churches in DC are accustomed to pretty high powered people in their pews and seats so the distraction is probably a welcome one. Give them time. Out of curiosity, has every other President been a member of a local Washington congregation?

Why is it any of my (or your)business? Churcfh membership or attendance is not, unless there's been an amendment to the Constitution of this nation that I missed, a requirement of the President. This is an incredibly ridiculous issue for presumed adults to be fretting over.

Barack Husseim Obama is not a real Christian as he thinks our LORD is a liar in saying HE is ONLY Way of Salvation & he does not believe what our LORD said about Abortion, S & G. Also he is a false President. His two grandmothers have said he was not born in USA.

A most important part of being a Christian is being a part of a Church family. Membership helps one better understand ones beleifs and gives support to spiritual growth. The president, if he is truly Christian, knows what he beleives and is able to make a decision in short order. After all, he campaigned for two years and served in the senate four years, in DC!

I really didn't like any of the four choices. I think people should do a little church shopping before choosing a church. Our president has a strong faith and loving family. I am sure they will find a church one of these days. Give them some time!

Mr Obama like almost every politician 'uses' religion for political reasons. I imagine he has some kind of a faith, but I think it naive to believe he is any where near being a 'committed Christian'. He may go to church, even possibly join a church - but probably always with one eye on the polls.
Respectfully,
Roger Malstead

Too few options on your survey. I read that when you are immersed into Christ He adds you to His church. Are you talking about attendance at one or another congregation? That's not what your survey indicates.

I believe that President and Mrs Obama's church hunting is their own private business and it's none of ours.

And i think it's about time they got that puppy.

I have thought of President OBama and churches I knew in Washington DC while a chaplain and then pastor there 1959-1969. President Eisenhower made a choice before his Inauguration with his friend who was pastor of the National Presbyterian church then on Connecticut Ave. I wondered what I could DO. Then I know exactly what to do and I continue to do so as I begin each day. I pray for the President and his family to be directed by the Holy Spirit and find a church home. That is enough! Cast thy burdan on the LORD! Jim Shotwell Sr, retired Presbyterian Pastor, Delta OH

Not being a church member does not bother me. He has not stated that he has had a life changing experence with Jesus Christ, nor does he show many signs of a true christian.

He's rather busy running the nation (and he's only been at it a month) so shopping for a church may not be feasible at this time. Given that one can worship *anywhere* and that he could have an entire chapel built in the WH if he wanted I don't see this as a priority.

I find it very refreshing that the Obama's are not going to belong to any specific church.
After all, there is church and state separation. The farther away a president can be from organized religion the better off we will be as a country.
That we he owes his allegiance to no specific religious groups.
When president go to church it is for show only in any event. Ever see Bush, Reagan and other rushing of to church every Sunday. It was weddings and funerals only. Clinton actually went to church regularly and look what happened to him.
votres@dslextreme.com

Obama's not having found a church home doesn't really bother me. I think any church-going on his part would be hypocritical anyways. I'm not sure a true Christian would do to the country what he is. Our country was founded on Christian [and Judeo] principles and we are now heading in the other direction.

You should add a 5th option....No, it's none of my business.....

Perhaps President Obama has other things to take care of and might want to spend some time with his family.
There are some suggestions for additions to your poll in the site I link to.

I would prefer to see President Obama walk out his faith through his conduct and public policy, applying the principles and wisdom of his faith to his leadership and service. It would be more encouraging to see his commitment to the mandate of the local church through his personal ministry and calling than superficial attendance.

I am really not surprised or concerned that he has not joined a church. I, frankly, think that his so called 'Christianity' is for political purposes only. Is there a mosque in Washington DC?

Being "saved" is up to our gracious Lord AND the problem of the person concerned. Not matter of a third party opinion. GOD knows, anyway. And our Lord and Savior answered one of His disciple : ".... YOU, follow ME !" Please, read it in your own Bible : John 21 : 22.

As President OBAMA is concerned, I strongly wish that every political person in charge of fellow citizens would learn from his ways and act in similar and obvious respect of individuals and nations. Then the whole world and its inhabitants would be more comfortable as never before since the end of 2nd World War, in 1945.

G.R.

Where is the option that says, "No, it's none of my business whether the president (or anybody else) is or is not the member of a church"?

It is nobody's business which church, if any, the Obama family attends. There is no religious test for public office, so it's a matter of wasteful gossip for people to care which church they attend or even IF they attend regularly. Gossip is a cancer of the heart. Public meddling into his private choice of church attendance creates a cancer on the heart of society. Let it go. It doesn't matter. Barack Obama is the President of the United States. We should pay attention to his words and, more importantly, his actions to back up his words, rather than be concerned about if or where he might attend a religious service.

Finding the right Church is a challenge. I have been searching for the "right" church for over 10 yrs. Not to down play the importance of a church family, but it is not easy. I must equate it to finding the perfect wife. I have been to a wide range of churches and if the warm welcoming sensation is not there how inclined is a person to return there? Your church family is to be an additional rock that you can stand on. If the membership is like that of a country club how is that supportive? As we all know from time to time it is difficult for us to hear Christ and where He wants us to go. Just as I church hop, how can that be a bad thing for the President or any one else? Someone correct me if I am wrong, when two or more people come together in Christ's name Christ is present? I pray that us church hoppers are able to find the right church family.

Well in keeping with his anti christian worldview, I am sure a Unitarian 'church' will be right up Mr. Obama's alley...

Granted, we all need to be praying for Pres Obama to get saved but right now, he is as far from the lord as anyone could be....and incredibly, their are Christians who cannot even discern that simple reality.

Indeed, I'm not sure there has been a Christian President since Jimmy Carter...and he was a disaster as a President but at least at that time he made his faith clear...to his credit...

Frankly, Obama has had so many other issues to address in his first month as president, that I find it a bit comforting that he hasn't picked a church yet. In other words, I'd be a bit worry if Obama had researched all of and deliberated on his congregational options but had not put together a budget, a stimulus plan, or chosen a commerce secretary. And who knows, maybe Obama is really a closet atheist who's dragging his feet a bit.

Obama may believe there is a God but he definitely does not have a personal relationship with Him. For him to attend, join a church is only a social gesture. His truth lies in the Happy Hours he has in our White House.

Abraham Lincoln never joined a church. He explained:


"I have found difficulty in giving my assent to the long
complicated statements of Christian doctrine. Where any
church will inscribe over its altar as its sole
qualification for membership the Savior's condensed
statement of both Law and Gospel, "Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul
and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,"
that church will I join with all my heart and all my
soul."

It is so refreshing for a President to select folk to work with him who are not his cronies but when he finds a church I suspect it will have the same measure of grace he aspires to. I shall be visiting Washington in May - please let me know which church the Obamas choose as I would love to go: even better if I could meet Gary and find that he has been transformed from judge to gentle and gracious believer.

I believe him to be a wolf in sheep's clothing and an emperor standing naked. He joined a church to move ahead politically and no longer needs it.

It appears to me that Mr.(and Mrs.)Obama maintained membership in a "church" as long as it benefitted him and his political ambitions. When the heat became too much, he departed.

No doubt, he will again find it "convenient" to join a church where he can be "presented" as a "believer."

His actions in most areas deny any pretense of belief in our Savior or adherence to any faith except that which will further his ambitions.

Church membership is not a measurement of faith and certainly not discipleship. God does not need our worship, he ask for our obedience. Jesus did not ask us to attend chruch, he ask us to deny ourselves and take his yoke and follow him.

Having said that we need to follow Jesus in Christian community. You can be a chruch attender and still miss out on the reality of becoming a follower.

The man is for gay-unions; is pro-choice to an insane extent; is for the destruction of human life for technology; belonged to one of the most NON CHRISTIAN christian denominations in the US (UCC). Only actual Christians (at the elder's discretion) are to be admitted to membership.

The left hammered President Reagan on this very same issue years ago, but today Obama's lack of church membership is seen as just the latest example of his "wisdom". This is just more hypocrisy of the media and the left. Oops-sorry for the redundancy.

It is more important that President Obama to have a spiritual adviser. David had Nathan who kept him grounded in a spiritual way. Church is a place where worshipers come to worship the Lord. If President Obama enters into prayer, Bible study, and meditation on a regular bases than the Holy Spirit will lead him into those things that are spiritual.

During his campaign, President Obama endured hours of selective media clips from his pastor's sermons. Not once during that time do I recall anyone defending Senator Obama on the grounds that he had a contract with that Church and was obliged to maintain his membership.

It seemed to me that President Obama was criticized because he did not shop around and select a Church that reflected the most mainline views possible.

Is it any surprise that he is taking his time now? We Christians through our responses or through our lack of defense, encouraged this cautious response.

I would be happy if he never chose a church. He doesn't need to put on a display for the Christians the way that Bush did. He is a good man. He doesn't say something unless he means it. You can know all that you need to know about him by the way he treats others. That should be good enough for anyone.

Amazing, that Christians will start assessing our President's life and church attendance, "his record, policies, and agenda" to determine his spiritual condition and saved or not.

I grew up a Republican Baptist, and apparently not much has changed with the critical examination of someone else, while the beam in my own eye, has blinded me.

Shame on us to be involved in such petty and fruitless discussion! Christianity ... today?

Many of us expect B. Hussein Obama to never join any church -- it may detract from his own agenda.
His background does not show he supports any lesser organization than Himself; God is apparently too poor an option, one Who may not let B.H.O. have his own way in all things...

The last thime that President Obama was a member of a church, in the end it was used against him for political purpose. I believe that as president, he should take his time in finding a church for him and his family to worship. However, as long as he finds himself in a church on Sunday and spend time worshipping with his family, I see nothing wrong with that

In reference to Fred's comments which were posted twice: thinking (or should I say not thinking ) like that is one reason my husband and I are eagerly awaiting reception into the Catholic Church. I don't think Mr. Fred is educated as to the intrinsic evil of abortion and what it means when a society no longer protects the helpless. Graciousness is flippant and silly as a virtue to be admired over honesty and protection of the voiceless. Evangelicals who voted for Obama will come to regret it I believe.

When you are looking for a church in a new place, you & family should attend services in as many as you feel comfortable in visiting. If a church doesn't preach the gospel, and is not God-directed, you should eliminate it as a choice. If you & family feel comfortable with a particular congregation, and the message speaks to your heart, then God has directed you. Know your beliefs before you shop, and let the Lord lead.

What hypocrisy as to whether this man is a Christian or not or even what church he will attend. This website or blog is nothing but a GOSSIP column! It breaks my heart to say this, but it is true. It sparks opinions, judgments and further escalates division! It's not the only one. Whether he is a Christian or not, we who say WE ARE should be praying for him and this nation. That is mandated by the word of God! May God help us all!

I wonder what type of spiritual growth he is seeking. Evidently he is not too busy to hit the gym or basketball courts on Saturdays & Sundays.

I'm sorry I would prefer that the Leader of my Country be seeking God's will in all areas and to do that he needs to be studying the Word. Considering he does not keep a bible handy in his office (since one was not available when they had the do over swearing in) I wonder when he spends time with God. Considering his stand on abortion I would say not enough.

There was an old joke going around quite some time ago about a man who went to heaven and there was a huge fence there with many inside. He inquired of St. Peter as to why the fence. St. Peter replied "Oh, that's for the (fill in your choice), they think they are the only ones here." I suspect that those who have been prideful enough to determine who is or is not a "real" Christian are in for a big surprise when (and if) they reach the pearly gates. I wish someone would tell me when God died and left us in charge of determining who is or is not a Christian.

I was once told that when selecting a church in which to worship one should attend for at LEAST a month and in particular attend the Sunday School classes in order to establish what that church really teaches.

Many claim they "don't get anything out of it" when they talk about a particular church. It is my belief that we are in church to worship God and not to be entertained, i.e. to "put into" it, not "get out of it. Jeff is correct

It is a sad joke and a sad reflection on this country that people claim we are a "Christian" nation (or wanna be) when all you hear is crying and moaning about helping others with "their" money. If anyone thinks this is a Christian nation, then they should not be complaining about a "tithe," or whatever portion is required of them. It is equally sad that people are so bigoted or such "ditto-heads" (who don't have a single thought of their own) that they would promote sedition, and hope a president fails (no matter who s/he is) knowing the suffering that people are experiencing today. THAT is CHRISTIAN??? I think not.

Yes, we certainly should take the log out of our own eye before we look for the mite in someone else's.

I have never "chosen" a dog or a cat. It was always a matter of love at first sight, and our household was changed on the spur of the moment. My sister and her husband, on the other hand, have always done research, studied pedigree, "shopped" for their pets. But once the decision was made, their lives were changed every bit as much as mine ever has been - and the commitment, affection, and devotion have been every bit as real.

The Obamas seem to exercise care and caution in regard to important changes in their lives, their children's lives, the nation's life. I can respect that. I hope the kids love their new dog. And I hope that the family's exposure to a variety of congregations will aid in their continuing transformation through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Talk about majoring in minors! The guy has already declared open season on human beings -- and we're worried about which church he graces with his august messianic presence?

If and when he picks a church, it will be for appearences only. Christian America is so easily decieved, they choose to believe that B.H.Oboma is a Christian (they should have read his books), just like they choose to believe the G. Bush is a Christian. Being a Christian is one who is saved and is striving to be Christ-like. Both B.H.Oboma and G.W.Bush have mentioned "God", but that is about it. Mentioning God does not make one a Christian, going to a church does not make one a Christian any more than going to a garage makes one a car. Wake up America!

I don't care if he goes to church or not. But he sure scares me enough into going a lot....save us, Lord.

I would like to think that choosing a church, and attending a church, would be a 'soul decision', and a priority decision for he and his family, and not a political move. He seems to move quickly on other decisions

Ronald Reagan, the darling of the Religious Right, didn't even pretend to go to church during his eight years at the W.H. and did not have religious services in his home away from home, as I recall -- and yet he postured on all things that the R.R. held dear. Now, it suddenly concerns some of the same people that the Obamas have not chosen a D.C. church in his first six weeks in office? Give me a break.

it's my understanding that the bush's never had a church in washington. and to those above who made disparaging comments about obama and his faith, may God have mercy on you.

Of course he doesn't go to church! He's a muslim!
GOD, not allah the moon god, bless America!