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How does one go about picking a good church?

Postby Newbie » Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:25 pm

I know that picking a church is a very personal choice. With that being said, how does one go about picking a church? Are there some basic guidelines you can give me(us)? We are not very happy with our current church for numerous reasons. Any guidance is greatly appreciated.
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Re: How does one go about picking a good church?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:38 pm

This is a tough question, for exactly the reason you said: "Church" is a very personal decision, and people are looking for such different things. I can try to give you some Scriptural teaching about church, and maybe that will help you decide for yourself about some of the criteria you will use to pick a church.

1. Look closely at the worship service. The worship service should exalt God (instead of just share good feelings about life). Whether for you this means stained glass and quiet, or theater lights and celebration through powerful music (those are stylistic choices you must make based on what leads you into the presence of God), you are at the very least looking for a worship service that exalts God. Because worship is why you gather once a week, you want to be engaged. At best, worship should engage your heart, mind, and soul. Ideally a worship service will do all of this.

2. The worship service is a setting where we connect with God. Ideally in a worship service we should sense God's presence, and that the worship is designed to connect God and people together. Here again, different styles of worship do that differently for each of us, as do different preaching styles, but you should seek a church that creates an atmosphere and environment where God can connect with you as you seek him.

3. A good church has an outward focus. It's very easy for a church to becomes ingrown, or to only think about itself and its own wants and needs, but Jesus continually taught us to GO. Jesus taught us to make disciples of all nations, to care for the poor and helpless, to visit the sick and care for the imprisoned. You want a church that cares about missions and about demonstrating Jesus' love outside of the four walls of the building.

4. Servant leaders. Again, it's easy to get caught up in power, policies, and control. Real biblical leadership has a deep spirit of servanthood. one way to evaluate a church is whether the pastor, church leaders, and teachers have a heart of power and control or one of servanthood and humility.

5. A good church has loving, welcoming, and accepting people. They truly love each other, take care of each other. This seems like a no-brainer, but you want to pick a church where people are friendly. We've all been in congregation where the the people are unfriendly, complaining, or combative. Avoid those—but you know that. It's funny: everybody knows that, but there are still churches filled with grouchy people!

6. A good church teaches its people well. The Bible is a large book, and people need help to understand God and life. You want a church that has opportunities to learn, be taught, and to interact about the knowledge of our faith. Again, too many churches only go with 1 inch deep. You want a church that will instruct you in the basics and beyond them.

7. You want a church that values the Word of God, for personal study, class teaching, and congregational preaching. We live in a culture that is extremely Biblically illiterate. Too many churches don't emphasize a knowledge of the Word, and the result is shallow Biblical knowledge and a lot of misunderstanding about God.

8. You want a church that teaches its members to be responsible stewards of all that God has given them: time, spiritual gifts, energy, money, possessions, and resources.

9. You want a church management structure that holds its leaders accountable. Leaders have to be free to lead, but they are also accountable to God and to the people for what they do, teach, and how they live. Make sure there are checks, balances, and accountability structures in the way the church by-laws, constitution, and committees are set up.

10. A healthy church also cooperates with other churches. No congregation should be an island, slugging it out on their own, biased against other congregations, and not networking with the larger Body of Christ.

Now, all this having been said, you will never find a church that is all these things. Some do far better than others, though. It doesn't matter whether they are large or small. You also have to think about what is most important to you, and maybe rank these things in order or priority to you. You need to find a church that fits your style, that suits your personality, that's close enough for you to participate in, and that you can put up with the places where they are weak. No church needs more complainers, so only link yourself with a church where you can be cooperative, supportive, and participative.

Talk to me more if some of this needs to be explained or if you want to know more. Picking a church is very subjective and personal.
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