Question:How can I be sure that God wants me to be part of
a particular church or denomination?
Bible Answer: First it is important to know
that God wants us to attend church.
. . . not forsaking our own assembling together . .
. (NASB) Hebrews 10:25
Why Is It Important? It is the only way for us to grow as
Christians. Spiritual growth involves mainly three areas. We can take
all of the commands in the New Testament about how a believer can grow,
and they will fall into three areas. First,
we need to follow the example of a spiritual leader.
This is in
fact how we start to grow. Almost every new Christian asks someone what
he/she should do after becoming a new Christian. The new Christian starts
by following the example of another Christian. Often we do not pick the
best example to follow, but the important thing to remember is that we
do follow someone. Many follow the pastor and learn from him how to pray,
how to confess their sins, what God's love looks like, what it means
to be spirit-filled, and many other things. Second, other Christians
minister to us too! We encourage
each other when we use our spiritual gifts, share Christ together, spend
time together, and challenge one another in the areas in which we struggle.
we need to feast on the Word of God. Some Christians are happy with the
milk of scripture. They like the soft, sweet flavor of God's love, but
they do not like the spiritual
meat that they need to become mature Christians
Now these areas are important because it is these areas that you want
to consider when you look for a church.
Does It Provide Spiritual Meat?
foundation, we can now determine what to look for in a church. First,
we need to ask ourselves, "Does this church teach through all of
scripture or do they just teach topics?" Does the pastor teach through
books of the Bible verse-by-verse and help you understand what scripture
says? If the pastor is confusing then he may not have the spiritual gift
of teaching, or he may not be preparing for Sunday as he should. There
are many pastors who want to give their people a warm feeling. Most people
attend church wanting to experience God - to have a good feeling. But
the Holy Spirit tells us in Hebrews 5:11-14 that spiritual growth comes
by chewing on the meat of scripture and not remaining on a diet of milk.
The primary obligation of every pastor-teacher is to teach the Bible
and to teach it in depth. For a fuller explanation visit A
Call: Teach The Bible.
What are we looking for? We are looking for a church that
is committed to teaching truth and is committed to actually teaching
through the Bible. Most pastors will tell you that they "teach the
Bible." But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking
about a pastor who is an in depth Bible teacher. Last, ask him what he
believes about the Bible. Look to see if he teaches error. It is hard
to discover a false teacher. He may be careful to not reveal what he
does not believe. I would interview the pastor and ask questions. Then
I would attend the church for about a year before joining. It will take
that long or more to discover what he really believes. During that year
compare what he is teaching against what others are teaching, and ask
God, "Who is right?"
Are The Leaders Spiritual Men? The next
area to consider is the spiritual character of the leadership of the
church, including the pastor. Jesus gave us a biblical principle.
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above
his master. (NASB) Matthew 10:24
A believer tends not to be more spiritual than his leadership. In fact,
the leadership will tend not to be more spiritual than the pastor. There
are many churches with pastors and leaders who are proud, greedy for
money, have been divorced, or are in love with the world. Such men will
rarely be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Such men will rarely have great
wisdom or insight into scripture because the Holy Spirit is not able
to minister through them, due to their lives. One way to measure the
spiritual character of the leadership is to look at the character of
the people in the church. In every church there is a common attitude
among the people. They are generally unloving or loving. They are eager
to know God or they are more interested in their personal time and the
things of the world. So ask, "What is the character of the people
in this church?" Again it will take time to evaluate.
Are The People Ministering To Each Other? Finally,
are the people loving and eager to serve one another? it is not enough
to ask if they are ministering to each other. Some years ago I heard
a pastor admit that he "released people to ministry."
I thought to myself that I did not know that the Holy Spirit gave that
responsiblity over to the pastor. There are pastors and leaders who want
to control everything.
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who
loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason,
if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly
accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does
he himself receive the brethren, and he forbids those who desire to do
so, and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is
evil . . . (NASB) 3 John 9-11
Look for a church where the people are eager to minister and are able
to minister. Do they get together in Bible studies? Is the church mainly
focused on social times or is there a hunger for God and a caring attitude
Conclusion:What should one look for in a good
church? First, a church that is committed to teaching all of the Word
of God, teaching it in depth, and teaching it book-by-book and verse-by-verse.
I would flee from a church that is topical and uses too many illustrations.
The pastor's messages should be more than 30 minutes. Men who violate
these guidelines are usually more interested in pleasing people and are
not committed to building disciples.
Second, look for godly men who flee sin and have a heart
of love. Finally, look for a church where the people love each other,
love strangers, are free to minister to each other, and have
a passion for God