Summary: Everyone is looking for the right church to attend and be a part of. But we don’t always choose a church for the right reasons. In our day of consumerism, we need to choose the right church for the right reasons.
In our last spiritual formation post, we talked about water baptism and how important it is to continue in the spiritual formation journey. The next step in growing is to find a Bible believing church and become part of it.
It shouldn’t be unusual, but I love going to church. I love being part of a faith community that shares my beliefs. I have wonderful friends in the faith I would’ve never met if I didn’t go to church.
But I don’t wear such rose-colored glasses that I can’t see there are faults in churches. No church is perfect. There are a lot of great churches out there. But each one of them has their faults. So how do you find a good church that’s the right fit for you? Let’s dive in!
Married to the Church
As a minister, some people think once I become the pastor of a church that I must stay at that church for many, many years. There’s nothing wrong with that if it happens. But there’s no written rule that I have to stay at a church forever.
Unfortunately, becoming a quadriplegic made it impossible to continue pastoring at my last church. I did not want to leave there. Pastors have this way of talking about being married to the church. But many people think it’s different for people in the congregation.
They want people to stay at the church forever. You don’t have to be married to the church. But you need to be married to the Church. The distinction I make is between the Church universal and the local church.
The local church is the one you go to regularly. It is also called the visible church. These are the saints you see week in and week out. They are the ones you do things for Jesus together with. You know them personally.
The Church universal speaks of the Church Jesus has founded. It is the body of Christ that includes saints that have passed into eternity and saints you don’t see or even know are part of the Church. You are part of this larger body of Christ just as much as they are.
This is why we can have our own local church and are connected to other denominations and churches within Christianity. A Christian needs to affirm the major tenets of the faith. Many of our denominations subscribe to minor doctrines they hold in common.
For example, I am an Assemblies of God minister. In a larger sense, I’m a Pentecostal. Zooming out even more, I am a Protestant. And even further out, I am a Christian. I can affirm the major attendance of the faith with any other Christian. But I also have Pentecostal distinctives, like speaking in tongues.
You are not married to the local church you regularly attend. But while you attend, you should be faithful to that church. You can go to other local churches without feeling bad about it. But you should not “church hop,” never having a local church you regularly attend, but skipping around to different churches in your area.
As a Christian, you are married to the universal Church. You are part of the larger body of Christ that spans the globe and is also in heaven. No church is perfect. But Jesus never said they would be. He ministers to the world through this body He has left behind until He returns.
We have a big problem in the Church today. People are used to finding the things they want from wherever they find them. With the expansion of internet stores, people can get whatever they want from wherever they want.
Some Christians have treated the Church the same way. They look for churches that make them feel good. If they come under discipline and one church, instead of going through that discipline, they go to another church.
People have checkboxes and lists of things they want in a church. So they go searching the area until they find a church that best fits those checkboxes. If they are unhappy, they find another church. If they don’t like the way the pastor dresses, or the carpet color, it’s on to the next one.
These are superficial differences. They should not cause you to go to different churches until you find one that suits you. Because no church is perfect, you’re never going to find the church you want to go to all the time.
Churches are not stores. They do not sell different products that you may or may not like. They are smaller faith communities of the larger faith community of the whole body of Christ. We must not treat churches as we treat stores.
If you have differences of minor doctrines with a certain church, that’s one thing. But if you are looking for a church that fits your “style” and what you think the church should look like, you’re looking for the wrong things.
A Bible Believing Church
What should you look for in a church? First, you want to start with a Bible believing church. You hear pastors mention this from the pulpit when you become a disciple of Christ. But what do they mean by that phrase?
A Bible believing church preaches the whole counsel of the Word of God. The pastor deals with the parts of the Bible that are hard to understand. He or she will approach uncomfortable subjects within the Scriptures.
A Bible believing church uses the Bible as its chief manual on what it believes, what it practices, it’s DNA, and how it worships. When you ask people, “Why do we do this?” they show you versus and places in Scripture that are the backbone of their reason.
Now if you don’t agree with how they use those Scriptures to justify what they believe and how they act, that would be a reason to look for another church. But if you agree with their approach, not personally but seeing it in the Scriptures, that is not a good reason to leave a church.
Another good reason to leave a church is personality clashes you cannot get past. Even in the church in Acts, people had disputes and disagreements. Paul and Barnabas are a chief example. But even Paul reconciled with John Mark by the end of his ministry and life.
Any church you go to must hold to the orthodox tenants of the Christian faith. If they believe Jesus isn’t the divine Son of God, that’s a good reason to leave the church. It’s probably a cult. These are the deep issues you should look for as you search for the right church.
But you should also pay attention to minor doctrines taught by the church. There are things in the Bible some churches pay close attention to and practice, and other things they don’t pay as close attention to. I like to call this contributing in that minor doctrine to the whole body of Christ.
For instance, in the Pentecostal churches I enjoy attending, the Holy Spirit and His works are highlighted by the pastors and teachers. I don’t want to say Pentecostals have cornered the market on the Holy Spirit. But we tend to help people become familiar with Him and more comfortable with His ministry through them.
I see this as contributing to the whole body of Christ our unique understanding and study into the Holy &. Many Christians are most uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit. They have a hard time placing who He is within the Trinity. They are least familiar with the Holy Spirit. So you need to find a church that fits your understanding of Scripture the most.
The Assemblies of God is not perfect. We don’t get everything right all the time. But I believe it is the closest to the Bible that I see from my personal life. I enjoy attending the Assemblies of God churches because I feel comfortable there.
The “Right” Church for You
So how do you know what the right church is for you to attend? Take into account the doctrines and practices of the church. Do you see these in the Scriptures when you read them? Are they misusing Scriptures for their doctrines or practices?
Don’t rely on the superficial things like the carpet color or the style of dress. You could have all these things that you like and be attending a church that is not biblical in its approach. Make sure you are going to a church for the right reasons.
If you have not found a church yet as a new believer, or if you are transitioning to another church, pay close attention to what they teach and preach, and how they apply it. Is it a Bible believing church? If you are not looking for a church, do you attend a Bible believing church?
We’ve discussed how to find the right church that fits you. Once you’ve found the church for you, it’s time to get involved in the church and belong.