What should we look for in choosing a church home?
These days people often look for a church in much the same way they choose a mall or restaurant. Many people look for adequate parking, great facilities, and exciting youth programs, but this, of course, is basing one’s choice on the wrong things. A word of caution in choosing a church, don’t expect to find a perfect one, for if there were such a church, the moment you or I joined it, it would no longer be perfect! Every church, being full of sinful (though hopefully saved) people, is going to have its short comings. So our need is to set our sights of the primary issues.
(1) The number one issue (in my opinion) is to find a biblical church. This is a church that holds to the historic, fundamental or evangelical teachings of the Bible. As a guide to what to look for, see our Doctrinal Statement under “About the BSF.” There is a strong emphasis in the pastoral epistles on the importance of sound (healthy) doctrine.
(2) A church should be committed to the preaching/teaching of the Bible as the center and foundation of its ministry. It is God’s Word that that changes lives as people are confronted with, learn, and believe in the Scripture. (See 1 Thess. 2:13.) Closely related here is the type of preaching that is done. Is it for the most part, expository (going verse-by-verse through the Bible) or is the congregation fed on sermonettes and popular topics that seek to make people feel good or address the so-called self-help needs. Since God’s Word is relevant and deals with life as we find it in any age, expository preaching will take care of our needs as it enhances our walk with the Lord and, through the ministry of the Spirit, enable us to experience Christ-like change and spiritual growth and maturity.
(3) Also, look for a church that has a focus on body life or some kind of fellowship in the sense of caring for one another. Are there small groups of some kind for the purpose of fellowship, Bible study, prayer, and caring for each other? This can take many forms.
(4) Is the church seeking to reach its community for the Savior? This also can occur in many ways, but there should be some kind of evidence of wanting to grow. Growth occurs in three ways: (a) qualitatively (spiritual growth in Christ and training people for ministry [see Eph. 4:12f]), (b) quantitatively (outreach with new people coming into the church which should include evangelism as the primary source of this), and (c)organic (this is the development of gifts and people becoming plugged into ministry [again see Eph. 4:12f]).
(5) Obviously, there are other things we might like to see such as an effective ministry to youth, nice facilities, good music, but these, though important, should not take precedence over the above issues.
(6) Be on guard for those churches where the focus is on charismatic leaders who tend to dominate and become dictatorial to the leadership and congregation. Many cults operate like this. I personally believe that the most biblical form of church government is one that has a plurality of leadership in men called “elders” who function as servant leaders, not rulers. For more on this, see the study, A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry on our web site in the “Bible Studies / Theology / Ecclesiology” section.
(7) Be wary of churches that promote the miraculous like healings, miracles, and speaking in tongues. These things do not promote spiritual growth and maturity, but rather appeal to the flesh.