Are you out of church and thinking of getting started going again?
Are you one of those people who ‘got saved’ watching a television show and want to find a church?
Were you brought up in church, stopped going, and now find yourself feeling a need to attend church again?
Was there a fight in your church that left you broken hearted and even a little bitter?
Well, whoever you are and whatever the reason, here are a few hints on finding a church that will help you instead of hurt you.
God tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, so it is important to go to church. This article really isn’t about the reasons for going to church, it is to give a few guidelines in choosing a church you can stick with.
First, it’s all about the preacher. He won’t be a perfect human being. He probably won’t be your new best friend. He may honestly be very busy man doing necessary things. He should live up to a moral standard that is acceptable according to the Bible. AND – he should give a good preaching/teaching sermon every service. You will be able to tell how much time he spent preparing the sermon by listening. He can throw in a few jokes, a poem or two, and even burst out in a song every now and then. He can shout sometimes, or talk in a normal voice. What matters is the content. The sermon has to be a prepared sermon based solidly on scripture. If the sermons are ‘feel good’ ‘get along’ sermons then forget that church. Sometimes a sermon will make you feel good. Sometimes a sermon can bring reconciliation between estranged people, but that is a by-product of solid Bible teaching. It really is all about the preacher.
A church will have a Statement of Faith which will tell you what the church believes. This is good. However, it may have been written more than a generation ago and the current leaders and congregation of the church may not feel the same way. You need to talk to the preacher in person and question him to see if you are at least on the same page when it comes to theology. Remember the fundamentals of the faith:
- Inerrancy of scripture
- Pre-existence and Deity of Christ
- Virgin Birth
- Literal death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If the preacher hum-haw’s around or tries to sidestep these issues, then hit the road. He isn’t a real preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Second, if at all possible in your area, you want a preacher that uses the King James Version of the Bible. I recommend the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. I use it and I love it.
Third, you want a song service that uses the hymnal. The hymnal will keep the music in line to teach additional Bible truths and comforts. There is nothing that compares to the hymnal EXCEPT the Bible itself. Do not trivialize the song service by pretending that music doesn’t matter or by accepting worldly music to help get people in the mood to worship. Don’t get caught up in the forced emotionalism of the 7-11 style of music. That is a song that has 7 words sung 11 times. Sometimes it is ‘sung softly as a prayer’, or ‘sung loudly to a rock band’, but it is still a human attempt to force an emotional response. Any emotion produced by such so-called worship music will probably not last past the church parking lot, much less through the next day.
The song service matters.
Fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on….
People are often looking for a church where they ‘feel at home’, where there are a lot of activities, and where friends can be made. All these are nice, but they are not reasons for choosing a church. They are sort of like by-products. A Bible teaching preacher and a song service that worships God instead of emotion produces the good soil in which a tenderhearted sincere group of Christians may grow. In that atmosphere you may come to feel at home and make eternal friends.
I have seen many Christians who are the ‘walking wounded’. They went to church faithfully and somehow wound up in what seemed like the middle of a war zone. People who were supposed to be Christians, and may even actually be Christians, acted like the devil’s own agents, and the church split right down the middle. So called friends took one path. Other friends wouldn’t choose a side. The church almost fell apart. They stopped going to church. The needed time to ‘heal’. Years went by and they were still ‘healing’. A wounded heart became the devil’s tool to lead them away from the Lord.
I would also be careful in joining a church where they want to ‘put you to work’ immediately. IF you have been out of church a while, or just going through the trauma of a move, you are not ready to minister to others right at that moment. The church needs to take time to get to know you and you need time to get to know the church. If they give people positions of power such as teaching a Sunday School class or working with the youth without knowing them well, they are not cautious regarding error creeping into a church. I currently know of a large church that is going through a rough time because of lack of oversight regarding ‘ministries’ of the church. Gross error was being taught as truth, and many new Christians have been led astray. A word of caution here to parents – be very careful the church classes and activities in which you allow your children to participate. Be even more careful who is allowed to teach them. Often a ‘role model’ is considered a youthful person who looks nice and is willing to take on a challenge like teaching or leading a group of children or youths. In reality – this so called role model may be so Bible ignorant they don’t even know the fundamentals of the faith. They are really just a social director, not a Bible teacher. They may be sincere, but it is just this sort of person the devil uses to bring in doctrinal errors that can even lead some all the way to hell. When in doubt, keep you kid in ‘big church’ and cut out questionable activities. Your goal is to raise your child to love God and keep the commandments. It isn’t to raise someone who is only a social or cultural Christian.
All these are things to be considered when choosing a church, but the fundamentals are the same.
It’s the preacher.
It’s the fundamentals of the faith.
It’s the song service.
If you can get these things in a church then you have a good place to grow as a Christian.
You have a good place to raise up a family that loves the God of the Bible.
Don’t let the devil cheat you out of your blessings because Christians are still sinners.
Find a church home.
Your job as church member is to attend as faithfully as your health allows, to be continually learning and growing in understanding of Bible theology and doctrine, and to watch for error creeping in. Eventually the Lord may lead you to take a more active role in the church. When God asks you to do something, be ready to do it. In the meantime, don’t be brow beaten into taking a position in the church that you do not feel qualified or called to do.
If you are a Christian who has been out of church, a Christian whose church fell apart, or a Christian moving to a new area, the time to find a new church is right now. Don’t forsake personal Bible study and prayer, but also remember Hebrews 10:23-25
23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Here’s a wonderful song from the hymnal to get you going.
By Barbara Henderson