Identifying a church home is one of the most significant decisions you’ll ever make. After all, what can be more important than your spiritual network and the person that leads it? As with any major life decision, prayer is an essential part of the process. However, be careful to employ a little practical wisdom as well.
1. Tenets of faith
Make sure you comprehend the church doctrine. For example, who does the church say Jesus is? Do they recognize Him as God as well as the Son of God? If not, that’s a deal-breaker. Do they believe in the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)? Do they believe that God still speaks, moves and delivers today?
2. Denomination or accountability structure
If your prospective church is part of a denomination (i.e. Baptist, C.O.G.IC., etc.) research the founding principles of the faction. Are the principles feasible for today’s culture? Another point to watch out for: does the church think they are “better” than other churches or denominations? If so, “ick” factor should be elevated.
Does the pastor have a solid accountability structure or can he do what he wants with the church’s money, resources and people. Is there a strong board of directors or trustees? Don’t be ashamed to ask. A good pastor will respect you for the inquiry.
3. Consider the pastor and his family.
Observe the pastor carefully. After all, this is the person you’ll turn to during some of life’s most challenging and painful incidents. Know as much about his leadership style as possible.
Education: Is he formally trained? Did he learn to interpret, dissect and explore the Word of God from professionals? The Bible was written in another language (than English) and during a different historical time. Understanding languages – beyond a Strong’s Concordance is important. Would you trust a doctor that wasn’t trained formally? No, he should understand chemistry, anatomy and other relevant bodies of knowledge, right? The anointing is empowering, but knowledge also plays a role in understanding the Bible.
Delivery: Does he present the word in ways that you can understand? Are you able to apply the teachings to your daily life?
Money: How does he manage the day to day business of the church? Does he fully disclose the finances? Does the church have business meetings?
Spiritual: What is his worship like? Does he have more “head-knowledge” than personal connection with the Lord Jesus Christ? You can discern. Is he humble before the Lord? What’s more important to Him– his program (plan) or God’s plan?
His wife: What is his wife like? Her often-ignored role is quite significant. A wounded or spiritually immature pastor’s wife can wreak havoc on the culture of a church. Ask yourself: is she warm and approachable? If necessary, would you feel comfortable approaching her for prayer? Does she love the Lord? Does she exhibit evidence that validates her commitment to Him?
Further, how does she respond to her husband? If she’s rolling her eyes during the sermon, it could (maybe) be an indication of “something”. Enough said.
The marital relationship is a key insight to how the pastor manages his home and most intimate earthly relationship. Think of it: if he can’t lead his home and maintain peace, how can he manage the house of God? Would you trust such a leader with marital advice or counseling?
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