THINGS TO CONSIDER IN CHOOSING A LOCAL CHURCH
If you are a new Christian or just one that find themselves in changing circumstances and are looking for a good local church to be part of, I encourage you to ask the following questions in your search for a new church home:
- Is the Bible used, in every pulpit sermon, as the authority backing the message presented to you?
- Does the church put emphases on missionary work both locally and around the world?
- Does the church have an educational program for the family? It could be in the form of any of the following: Sunday school, Adult Bible Studies, Home Bible Studies, Youth Ministries, Children Ministries, Singles Ministries, Discipleship Ministries, or Catechisms. All of this would depend on the size of the church, but all good churches should have some of these programs for the edification of the believer.
- What is the doctrine of this local church? Another way of asking this is, what does this church believe and teach concerning the major doctrines or teaching of the Bible? If you do not know what these doctrines are, you can review our “Faith Statement”, which can be accessed through the drop-down menu under “Our Information”. Our statement of faith reflects some major foundational doctrines of the Bible. Most churches will have a church constitution and statement of faith that you can read to see what that local church believes in general. If a church does not have any such documents to review, then I would consider looking for another place of opportunity.
- Does the church have a system in place to hold its leadership accountable, both spiritually and legally? This is usually cared for through the type of church government it sets up for itself. Church government varies between churches and can fall under the following categories: Congregational rule, Presbytery rule, Apostolically forms of government, many independent churches function with some form of Pastoral/Deacon/Trustee rule.
Please refer to the following web sites for further reference:
What outward signs reflect a church having problems?
- The lack of love for one another. This takes a little time to see and some involvement on your part. Jesus said you will know they are my disciples if they have a love for one another. (John 13:35)
- An over-emphasis on giving money. The Scripture speaks of money more than any other subject. However, when the sermons or in-house discussions are overly emphasized on the subject of giving money, this may be a sign of spiritual problems within that local body. Giving is a matter of the heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The problem could be with the congregation or with leadership or both, but in the end, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
- Does the only authority on spiritual matters come from the historical doctrinal teachings of the Bible, or does it come from one person’s private interpretation of what the Bible is saying? One definition of a cult is: “a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s interpretation of the Bible”. (Read: The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin) This would take in groups like Mormonism, who follow the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; Jehovah Witnesses, who follow the teachings of Charles T. Russell and J. F. Rutherford; Christian Science, who follows the teaching of Mary Baker Eddy; and the Unity School of Christianity, who follow the teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, and there are others. When looking for a local church make sure that you are in a place that teaches the historical doctrines of the faith, not modifications of it that have come much later in history, particularly major doctrinal changes after the sixteenth century. In the end you need to remember that the church is the single body of Christ, worldwide, and this body gathers together locally in the form of New Testament local churches.
How do I know what church God wants me in?
- The Holy Spirit is your teacher and guide. Pray and listen to Him. (John 14:26)
- Make a checklist of some of the things mentioned here. If the church is practicing things that are unbiblical, in a big way, look somewhere else. Example: The ordination of homosexuals, immoral life styles of leadership and membership with no accountability, the denial that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, the downplaying of the importance of the “Word of God” (Bible) in the Christian’s life and false teachings of other major doctrines.
- Does this church fit the spiritual needs I have in my life or family’s life?
- Is there something I can contribute, through my God-given spiritual gifts, to this local body for the work of the ministry, for the edification of other believers? (1 Corinthians 12:1-31)
- In the end, you need to remember there is no perfect local church, we are all sinners saved by grace and the Bible teaches that God’s Kingdom is being advanced through the local New Testament church. You can learn more on this subject by reading some of the essays listed in the essay index on this web site.
The following links will take you to a on-line Church Directory and mission opportunity directory where you can search for a local church or opportunities for short term mission trips.
I hope this information is helpful, if you have any question or comments feel free to contact me.