Choosing a Church
So you’re looking for a church! Finding a good
home church is an exceedingly important endeavor. God’s Word
requires that His people be in good and regular fellowship in the
church of Jesus Christ. But among the many churches around, what is
the best way to go about finding the right one? Here are some
First of all, it is important to realize that it is essential that
you be in such fellowship. Church membership is not optional but
necessary. God’s Word is very clear; you must make a profession of
your faith in Jesus Christ before the elders of the church and submit
to their authority. Jesus taught, “Whosoever therefore shall confess
me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in
heaven” (Matthew 10:32). God commands, “Obey them that have the
rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls,
as they that must give account” (Hebrews 13:17).
Second, you must find a church that believes the Bible and
sincerely desires to put it into practice. The minister is the
mouthpiece for God; he (yes, God’s Word requires him to be a man) is
under the solemn obligation to preach the Word of God not his own
opinions or pet causes: “The things that thou hast heard of me
among many witnesses [the Apostles’ doctrine], the same
[not something else] commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to
teach others also.... Preach the word [not your own ideas]; be
instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 2:2, 4:2).
Look for a conservative, Bible-believing Presbyterian or Reformed
church (“Presbyterian” refers to biblical church government by a
plurality of godly officers called elders; “Reformed” refers to
the system of doctrine taught in the Word of God which was so clearly
stated at the time of the Protestant Reformation). Check the Yellow
Pages carefully to see if there might be one. But since finding one is
impossible in many localities, you might look for a Reformed Baptist
or independent church.
Many people look for a church based upon what it can offer them in
terms of a worship style they enjoy or activities for various age
groups. People often look for a church that caters to them as
consumers, but our tastes cannot govern the living God. Much of the
common advice regarding choosing a church is humanism, pure and
simple. A popular Christian magazine recently offered this advice
regarding choosing a church: “The key in choosing a worship style
lies in realizing what works for you. Which form of worship —
formal, spontaneous, or somewhere in between — helps you best
appreciate God and most enhances your spiritual life?”
One factor that was not even considered was, “What does God
think about all this?” Is God pleased with the church’s worship?
We shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and what will
matter then is not how good a church made you feel but whether God was
One woman wrote, “I was drawn to Mission Valley Church by the
worship service. They offered a contemporary service with drama,
contemporary-sounding music, and other elements that fit in with the
lifestyle of people my age. The services reflect our needs and
interests.” This is a self-centered not God-centered approach and is
Here are some questions you might want to ask the pastor. All
questions anticipate a “yes” answer.
- Do you believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, the
authoritative rule of faith and practice?
- Do you believe the Bible to be without error in matters of
science and history as well as faith and doctrine?
- As the pastor, do you see it as your primary duty in preaching
to explain and apply to your hearers the message of
the text of Scripture?
- Do you believe the sinner is justified by faith in Jesus Christ
alone, apart from all good works?
- Do you believe in a literal hell or lake of fire in which all
those who reject Jesus Christ will be punished eternally?
- Do you believe that there is no salvation for any person apart
from faith in Jesus Christ?
- Do you believe that God created all things out of nothing in six
literal 24-hour days?
- Do you believe in the virgin birth and miracles of Jesus Christ?
- Must God’s people in this age keep the Ten Commandments in
obedience to our Lord?
- Must God’s people in this age observe the Christian sabbath in
obedience to Christ, the Lord of the sabbath?
- Do you believe that the purpose of worship is to glorify God by
doing only those things that He has appointed in His Word? Note:
the biblical elements of worship are prayer, Scripture reading,
singing praise to God, giving tithes and offerings, preaching, the
proper administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, lawful
vows (membership, baptism, ordination, marriage, etc.) and
fastings upon special occasions; man is not free to add elements
of human innovation such as drama.
- Does this church discipline members who persist in living in
disobedience to Jesus Christ, the King and Head of the church?
When you find a church that teaches the Word of God, try going to
that church for at least four weeks before eliminating it as a
Finally, bathe the whole effort in concerted prayer before the
throne of grace. The matter of choosing a home church is of
considerable importance to your spiritual health and eternal
happiness. Pray and seek God’s will in the matter.
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Copyright © Stephen Pribble, 1996
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