What should I look for when choosing a Christian church?
What should you look for when choosing a Christian church? Deciding which church you or your family will attend is one of the most important decisions that you can make. Much of the life of the Christian is impacted by the church that he or she attends, and as such, one should make the following considerations when selecting where one will regularly attend services:
Is Christ the center? This should be the number one question. This will become apparent after only a few visits. It will become clear if the pastor or some individual takes the preeminence. If more attention and adulation is given to an individual than to God, we should beware. We are required to submit to man-made authority in local churches. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Hebrews 13:17). However, Christ must always be the center of all activities; in the Christian church everything that is planned or done should bring Him glory. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).
Is the Bible the source and foundation for all doctrines and creeds? Sometimes there is an emphasis on one portion of the scriptures, or certain parts of the Bible are left out completely. Make sure that the teachings that emanate from the pulpit and any Bible classes or Sunday school lessons embrace the whole Bible, the full counsel of God. If you are in doubt, ask. Churches that emphasize or over-emphasize one doctrine while neglecting all others are in danger of becoming cult-like.
Is there an evangelical thrust? While the purpose of church meetings is to worship God and fellowship with other believers, believers must never lose sight of the great commission:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . ." (Matthew 28:19). If churches lose sight of the needs of the lost around them, they risk missing the very heartbeat of God. It is incumbent upon we as believers to share the good news to all; God is not willing that any should be lost. This should also be our desire. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Is there a full range of programs for the family and single individuals? Members of each congregation have varying needs. Well-rounded churches make an effort to minister to each group: good Sunday school and youth programs, women's and men's fellowships, singles ministries. These will vary in size and outreach in proportion to the size of the congregation; it is important to see that the leadership of the church is mindful of these needs.
Is the church near enough for regular attendance? Perhaps the most basic need in choosing a church is distance from home. Most churches offer Sunday services and at least one mid-week service. There are often meetings throughout the month for various groups to meet. Families and individuals should look for a church that can be reached with at least moderate convenience. If the church is too far away, there will be little incentive to attend anything but Sunday service. Attendance at other smaller group meetings helps to enrich the church family; individuals become better acquainted and are better enabled to know the needs of fellow church members. This promotes the love that is the distinguishing mark of the body of Christ. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).
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