Finding a Good Church
Connecting with the Body of Christ
They spent their time learning from the apostles, and they were like family to each other. They also broke bread and prayed together... Day after day they met together in the temple. They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God. Everyone liked them, and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved.
Last week’s devotional talked about why every follower of Jesus needs to find a church to be a part of, if possible. In some parts of the world, there is no organized church. But if you live somewhere where there are two or more Christian churches to choose from, here are a few teachings and attributes to look for. Many churches have a “Statement of Faith” or “What We Believe” on their website.
The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible
When finding a church, you should first find out if the church believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God, containing no errors and is the final authority on every church matter. In other words, is the Bible the main resource for preaching and teaching in the church? (Groups such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for example, elevate other writings to be equal to, or above, the Bible) This is an important requirement for your church.
The Identity of Jesus
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Jesus was (and is) God in the flesh, the second person of the Trinity (with the Father and the Holy Spirit). He is fully human and fully God. He lived a perfect life. His death on the cross paid the price for our sins, and His resurrection confirmed His power over death.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We are saved when we believe Christ’s sacrifice is payment for our sins (see Identity of Jesus above) and by faith accept God’s free gift of grace. We cannot earn salvation by our good works or belonging to a church. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, though important elements of the Christian life, should not be presented as conditions of salvation. Nor should practices such as speaking in tongues.
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
Does this church encourage you to pursue an intimate, life-changing relationship with God, rather than just attending a service and listening to a message? Does the service strive to do more than entertain you?
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
Does this church challenge you to grow in your own walk with God? Does it seek the spiritual growth of its people rather than just numerical growth?
Outreach / Missions
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).
Are the people of this church passionate about sharing the good news with others — in their community and around the world?
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Does this church provide ways for members to serve and minister to each other outside of the main service, such as home groups or small-group Bible studies?
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder . . . be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care... not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Is this church governed by a group of elders or other leaders, rather than being dominated by a pastor who holds all the authority (which is how cults often get started)?
A good church can launch you into a lifetime of growing in Christ and serving Him. But a bad church can weaken your faith or even ruin it — or even lead you to follow a different gospel entirely. So take the time and effort, using this guide and asking the Holy Spirit’s help to find a good church and the place that God wants you to be.
Pray this week:
Dear Lord, I need Your guidance as I look for a church, where I can grow in my faith, use my gifts, and serve others. Please give me Your Holy Spirit’s wisdom and lead me to the place you have for me, where I can glorify You with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.
If you need help, please write to us so one of our trained leaders can help you find a church.