Finding a Good Church
On our 'Ask the Pastor' site I often receive inquiries about how to find a good family church to attend. This can be a difficult issue since there are all kinds of churches, all kinds of denominations, all kinds of sectarian groups, not to mention groups that are cultic in nature.
This does not mean that there aren't many good family churches around. Actually there are a great many more good churches around than there are the not-so-good churches.
When I speak of not-so-good churches, I am not addressing groups that are known cults. In every denomination and in every non-denominational setting you will find good churches and not-so-good churches. Often what determines the difference in these two groups will be the pulpit ministry of the group.
Here is a short list on what to look for in finding a good church home:
(1) Avoid churches that carry in them an elitist or superior attitude towards other Christians. These churches are often sectarian in nature. (Sectarians are intolerant of the views of others.)
(2) Avoid denominations that speak of their denomination as God's true church in the earth. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus did not come to give us a better religion. He came to give us Himself. You will find true Christians in all Christ-honoring churches, including those who are not-so-good.
(3) Look for a church that is generous in heart towards other Christians, who rejoice when other church groups prosper, and who see their own church as only one part of the greater body of Christ.
Why is this important? Because Jesus gave us a sign that will always be the mark of His people - "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn 13:35) Christian love is not sectarian. It is shared by all true believers.
(4) Avoid churches where the pulpit dominates the conscience of members. Fear preaching and pulpit intimidation are trademarks of not-so-good churches. This is where the pastor is pretty much the sole prophet- spokesman for God, never to be questioned.
(5) Seek that healthy church where Bible believing, Bible-teaching, and being able to question and discuss doctrinal teachings in a open manner are invited by that church. Open and honest dialogue is a major key to spiritual growth.
(6) Avoid churches that are excessively emotional in nature. Emotionalism should never be seen as a sign of spirituality or of maturity. Oftentime it is just the opposite. While we do rejoice in our emotions, the greater sign of spiritual depth will be a quietness of spirit.
When Peter spoke of our spiritual adornment he said it was, "the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (1Pe 3:4)
Then we hear this from the prophet Isaiah, "And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever." (Is 32:17)
(7) Find a church where respect of personal family life is central to the leadership. No pastor should become over-familiar with any family in the church. This being over-familiar can cause the break down of a family. (Nuff said.)
While the above seven points are generic, they are good things to consider.
Perhaps I should go to say that the nature of a local church is pretty much set by the tone of the pulpit ministry. Where you find a humble, Spirit-led pastor in the pulpit, you will find those kinds of folk in the pews. When you find arrogance in the pulpit, guess what?
The key will always be in the foundation. David said, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps 11:3)
Then we need to consider what Paul said about our foundation in Christ. What he said can be applied to both good and not-so-good church groups.
The apostle said:
"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will be become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.
"If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1Co 3:11-15)
Paul is addressing the teachers of God's word. Gold, silver, and precious stones, represent the wonderful doctrines of Christ that build up our faith in Him. Wood, hay and straw represent teachings that are not true to the Scriptures. They will not stand under the fires of life or under the judgment of God.
Notice carefully where Paul places the stress of salvation for these teachers. Their salvation is based on one central factor - The foundation of Jesus Christ and the work of the cross.
The point is that if our salvation depends on total accurance in everything that we teach, then no one will make it to heaven. Salvation is based on one thing alone, that we have come to believe in Jesus Christ fully.
This is where we need to see a Messianic prophecy - God says through Isaiah, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (Is 28:16)
The foundation of Jesus Christ is firmly placed. How we build up our lives on the foundation is another manner. God's people need to make sure they are building their lives on the 'gold, silver, and precious stones' truths about Christ and not on on the traditions of men.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on February 28, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added February 28, 2007
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