Finding a church 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 who leads it? As with any major life decision, prayer is an essential part of the process, right? Sure, it is. However, you need to be practical and sensible too. Let’s explore.
1. Tenets of faith
Make sure you understand the church doctrine when visiting a church.
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.
Along the same lines, do they believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)? Do they believe that God still speaks, moves, and delivers today? If not, bye-bye.
2. Denomination or accountability structure
If your prospective church is part of a denomination (i.e. Baptist, C.O.G.I.C., etc.) research the founding principles of the faction.
Are the principles feasible for today’s culture? Another point to watch out for is this: does the church think they are “better” than other churches or denominations? If so, your “ick” factor should be elevated.
Beware of churches that act like anyone outside their congregation is not mature, learning, or growing in the Lord. Those sorts of churches are immature ones. One church is no better than any other as long as they teach God’s word based on the languages and not on opinion.
Does the pastor have a solid accountability structure or can he do whatever he wants with the church’s money, resources, and people.
Is there a strong board of directors, deacon board or trustees? Don’t be ashamed to ask. A good pastor will respect you for the inquiry. A shady one will be threatened by the questions.
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. Watch, observe and ask around.
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 and during a specific historical time. Understanding languages – beyond a Strong’s Concordance is important.
You don’t want a raggedy doctor and you don’t want a raggedy pastor!
Hey, would you trust a doctor that wasn’t trained formally? No, he should understand chemistry, anatomy and other relevant bodies of knowledge, right? Your prospective pastor should also have mastered the science of theology. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Yes, the anointing is empowering, but a specific set of knowledge also plays a role in understanding the Bible.
Delivery: Does he present the Word in ways you can understand? Are you able to apply the teachings to your daily life? This is huge! If not, you’re only having a motivational speech designed to tug on your emotions or sensibilities. No good.
Money: How does he manage the day-to-day business of the church? Does he fully disclose the finances annually? Does the church have business meetings? If not, beware. Running a church has some clear business elements. You need to know where your Kingdom investment goes.
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 leading? Is he a member of the “frozen chosen” during worship.
If so, approach with caution. I don’t completely trust a pastor who doesn’t worship God in his own way. It’s connected to his submission I think. If he sits there like he’s watching “Good Morning, America” during praise and worship, be concerned.
Personal life: What about his personal lifestyle – how does he manage his relationships and interactions with women in the church? Is he honorable and living above reproach?
His wife: What is she like? Her often-ignored role is quite significant. A wounded or spiritually immature pastor’s wife can wreak havoc on church culture. Ask yourself: “is she warm and approachable? “
If necessary, would you feel comfortable asking 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” going on. Enough said. I’ll leave that one alone.
No, I won’t.
The marriage relationship is a key insight to how the pastor manages his home and his 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? I wouldn’t! He has to have his life together!
If all looks good…
If everything above aligns and you still haven’t found a church – get yourself together! You have to get rooted and grounded in a church family.
The new church may not be like your former one. But, commit. Select one and get to growing. Get to sowing into other people. Ok? I get so bugged when people say “I can’t find a church like my old one”.
So what? You’re not supposed to. Every church is different and just maybe God is placing you in a new season and a new era so you can bless the people at your new church. You’re cheating them by just “floating”. You cheat God and you’re cheating yourself. Get settled and stop fooling around!
Don’t let a fear of commitment slow you. God will help you – even if you make a mistake.
“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.”
God’s got ya covered!
Stay-Home Baptist Church doesn’t exist. Grow up.
Any other tips or thoughts for someone looking for a church?