A Biblical Guide to Selecting a Local Church MinistryIntroduction
We've all heard that the choice and purchase of a home is one of the most significant decisions a person will ever make. In this temporal world, that may be true. However, choosing where you and your children will learn the things of God and serve the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal ramifications.
Every week we find people visiting churches to find out how they can make a wise choice in selecting a home church. We have found that there are three types of people seeking to find a home church. They are those who have moved or will be moving, new believers wanting to choose a good church, and those whose current church has departed from biblical principles. Such circumstances force us to consider what's really important in a church.
Is This Church Right For Me?
You must seek God's will and be led by the Holy Spirit in selecting a church. Also you need to evaluate how you and your family can contribute to that ministry so it is not just another church, but truly a home church.
Investigating Its Foundation
Whether you're searching for a home to live in or a church to worship in, its foundation is crucial (Matthew 7:24-27) There are four main components that make up the foundation of a strong local church:
A Proper View of Scripture
When investigating a potential home church, pay special particular attention to how it views the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
An Emphasis on Bible Teaching and Preaching
Observe what kind of preaching is done. (Acts 20:27; 1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)
Just as you would inspect the soundness of a house's foundation, so you should investigate the doctrinal stance of the churches you visit (i.e., deity of Jesus, salvation by grace through faith alone, etc.)
Observe whether the church practices the doctrines it claims to believe and teach. (James 1:22; Luke 6:46; John 13:17)
- A Proper View of Scripture
Examining Its Structure
The structural components of a local church provide not only its strength, but also dictate the character and direction of its ministry. Those components include:
Do the church's leaders function according to New Testament principles? (1 Timothy 3:1-13, 5:17-20; Titus 1:4-9; Hebrews 13:7, 17)
Evidence of Order
As Paul said in speaking of the church, "Let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner." (1 Corinthians 14:40)
Functional Goals and Objectives
Like Paul, we as a church need "to run in such a way, as not without aim." (1 Corinthians 9:26)
Some Christians love being involved in a large urban ministry with hundreds or even thousands of people while others feel lost in the vastness of such a ministry and fare much better in a smaller congregation. Again, finding your niche in the Body of Christ requires the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.
- Church Government
Seeing How It Functions
Does it fulfill the purpose for which it was designed? Does it meet the needs of the family? As you observe how a church functions, look for an emphasis on worshipping God.
Checking Its Environment
Certain observable factors contribute to the overall atmosphere of a local church. Those environmental components are usually manifested in attitudes.
- A High View of God (Proverbs 9:10)
- The Presence of a Sincere Faith
- Spirit of Sacrifice
- Proper Attitudes Toward the Pastor and Other Leaders
- Spirit of Unity
Am I Right For This Church?
Remember that no church will ever perfectly fulfill all these criteria. There is no perfect church. Also, remember that every church is going to have its own special blend of the characteristics we have examined. The key is to find a church that has them in proper balance, not overemphasizing some or de-emphasizing others. A balanced ministry is a Spirit-controlled ministry. If you find a church that possesses most but not all of the characteristics we've mentioned, don't immediately disregard it. Consider whether God wants to use you to help improve that local body as you exercise your own particular spiritual gifts.