Like many of you, Elsie and I in the past have found ourselves in search of a new church. Finding a “good” church is hard. There aren’t a lot of churches in our area that meet the criteria I list below. So though the pickins be slim, what should you and I look for in a church before settling in and calling it home? Here are seven criteria I look for in a church:
1. Bible preaching. Does the pastor practice expository preaching of the Bible? What I mean by that is does he proclaim the meaning of a passage of scripture in the Bible and tell us how to apply it to our everyday lives? In my opinion the best type of expository preaching takes a book of the Bible and carefully proclaims the truth of the biblical text verse by verse, chapter by chapter. This means that in the course of preaching through a book of the Bible the pastor will encounter tough, often controversial, verses which he will have to exposit. He cannot simply “cherry pick” his favorite or easiest passages to preach and build a sermon around them. So I look for a church whose pastor preaches the Bible.
2. Born again. Does the doctrinal statement of the church believe that lost sinners must be born again to go to heaven? I look for a church whose people are born again and believe in evangelizing the lost.
3. Bible-believing. Do church members and attenders carry a Bible with them to church or a Bible app on their cell phone or tablet? Do they use it while at church to look up passages that are being preached? The noble Bereans “searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). I look for a church of “noble Bereans” who love the Word of God and apply it to their lives.
4. Mission-minded. Does the church love lost sinners at home and abroad? Does the church believe that, apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ, lost sinners will go to hell? Is that reflected in the sending and support of missionaries from their own congregation? I look for a church that commissions and sends out missionaries to the lost.
5. Friendly. Are the church staff, attenders, and members friendly? I know that not everybody is an extrovert and enjoys starting conversations with strangers. I also know that there is a “fear of man” and it’s awkward to meet new people but if my family can enter and leave the church without anyone speaking to us, that’s not friendly. I look for a church that is friendly and wants to know us.
6. Doctrine. When it comes to doctrine, good and godly churches differ. However, is the church faithful to the fundamental doctrines of the Bible regarding God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, sin, salvation, the Bible, the church, the ordinances, and the return of Christ? I look for a church that is sound on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.
7. Ministry. My final criterion for a church is ministry. Can I serve in ministry? Are my spiritual gifts needed and wanted? I look for a church that needs me and my spiritual gifts.
Those are what I look for in a church at this stage of life. I’m sure if Elsie and I had children living at home we’d want to know if the church had a good, sanitary, well-staffed nursery or Bible-teaching children’s program. If we had teens, we’d want to know if the church had a godly youth group. The qualities I listed above are the “basics” in my book. Programs and personalities are secondary. If the seven criteria I’ve listed above are there, we’ve found a home.
Jesus is Lord of His church,