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Monday, February 7, 2011

How Do You Choose a Church?

Do you choose a church according what it can provide for you or do you choose a church according to what you can provide for it? The answer must be "Yes!"

I used to tell people who were looking for a church that they should seek one believed the Bible. I can't say that anymore. Everyone says they believe the Bible. The trouble is that they don't do what it says. They don't hold love as that which fulfills the law. They don't grant mercy and justice. They are like the Pharisees who Jesus warned us of. Therefore, let's look at the way a church regards the Bible.

The preacher does not make a church but he can often reveal the characteristics of a church. His high regard for scripture will reveal much about those who attend the worship services.

Most preachers read some scripture during their messages. The question is whether the messages he delivers are biblical. Does he read the scriptures, set them aside and tell the congregation what he thinks? Or, does he allow the scriptures to explain the scriptures? Does he allow the scriptures to determine what he believes? Or, does he make the scriptures support what he wants to believe?

Worship is basic in choosing a church. There is no reason you should be at odds with the preacher after every worship service.  You will simply be frustrated. You should keep looking for a new church if you find a preacher who does not have a high regard for scripture.

Do the actions of a church you are considering support their desire to see people become disciples of Jesus Christ? Are they actually doing what the Bible says or are they acting hatefully toward others and ignoring what the Bible says?   A church which has fired its last three pastors is neither Spirit led nor willing to do what the Bible says. They have chosen their pastors wrongly and treated them wrongly. This church cannot make disciples unless that church comes to repentance. It has no regard for the Bible no matter what it says in its doctrinal statements.

What can you offer the church you are considering? They may not have a ministry that you would like to develop. You may be the one to begin that ministry at that church. God calls you to a church as much as a church is called to you. Please consider what you will offer. It doesn't have to be something new. It may be a ministry God is calling you to that the church provides.

Be careful of a couple of things which will make you join the wrong church. Are you realistically going to make the drive to the church you are considering on a regular basis? It may be that this church is exciting and has everything you could want in a church. It may be that your best friends are members there but the distance can easily become an excuse irregular attendance.

Don't join a church simply because the people are friendly. You don't actually need friendly people. You need friends in the church. You have to ask yourself if these are the people with which you will spend time away from the church. Church cannot exist on Sunday mornings alone and be vital in the lives of the membership. They must have times when they go to each others' homes for fellowship and discipleship. A healthy church is full of friends who enjoy each other.

Above all, listen to the Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit telling you about the church you are attending? Is He leading you to join this church? Is He agreeing with the messages being preached? Is He urging you to become involved? Church membership should be a spiritual decision. The Spirit should lead your spirit to join the church.

Don't fret if you realize that you went to the wrong church. You made a mistake. The best thing to do is to look for a new one. However, are you discontent because the Spirit is making you so or are you discontent because something happened that you didn't like? Be careful not to jump ship simply because things didn't happen the way you thought they should happen. It could be that God will still lead that church to change but without regard to your timing.

I suppose someone will say, "All of this is fine and good if you are in metropolitan area with lots of churches to choose from. What if you live in a town with only one church?" Then you have two choices. You join that church and seek to change it for God's glory or you pray that God will grant you the grace to help start a new church.

The church is a body. Choose a church and become a functioning part.

May God bless you in your search.

1 Corinthians 12:18-20 (ESV) 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

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