Sharon Harris is wife, mother, English teacher, amateur photographer, and gardener.

What should I consider in selecting a church to join?

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Question: What should I consider in selecting a church to join?

Answer: People look for many different things in a church. Each person has different needs and usually looks at all the programs offered for adults, teens, or children. A church with varied meeting times during the week also can be convenient for working parents. The friendliness and welcoming attitudes of its members mean a great deal. Some visitors are impressed by a large, well-kept building and manicured grounds. The selection of worship music during services is important to others.  However, the most important thing to look for in a gathering of believers and one that should be at the top of the list but is often not considered first, as it definitely should be, is this test: 

Do the pastor and church leaders faithfully teach the Bible as true and without error, the foundation of the Christian faith?

This is an excellent question to ask the minister, and not at all out of line, when you meet with him after visiting a church.  The Bible warns that false teachers who teach their own opinions rather than God’s Biblical word will always be among us, especially in the latter days of the world (Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24). You can view a ministry’s website to read their beliefs; if they’re not posted, email the organization and ask these important questions, but also set up an appointment to talk with the church’s pastor:

  • Is the Bible your only source for God’s truth? 

It absolutely should be!  Jesus directed His apostle John to write that anyone changes His message and teaches any other way to reach God, he will suffer greatly!  John included this in Revelation when he shared Jesus’ teachings about the future of mankind and this world.  It is certainly applicable to all of His teachings in the Bible.  

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written here; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”  Revelation 22: 18-19

  • Do you teach the belief that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, co-eternal with God? Do you lead others to worship Jesus?

The answer should be, yes!  God directed the apostle John to write that false teachers would join churches, intending to spread their own wrong, human ideas about God.  

“Whoever does not live in the doctrine of Christ does not have God, for whoever abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house or count him as a friend.”  II John 9-10

  • Do you instruct that salvation from God is through faith alone, that there is nothing a person can do to earn his own way into heaven?  

Sometimes churches ask more of people for inclusion in their membership than God does. There are no acts of service that people must perform to enter the kingdom of heaven except to acknowledge that Jesus has saved them from the punishment from God for their sins. Jesus criticized the temple leaders, the Pharisees, for adding rules and regulations to the Jews that God had not required.

“Being right with God is not earned by obeying His law…righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe. For all people have sinned and have fallen short of receiving God’s glory… and they are made right with God through His free gift of His favor, by the substitutionary death of Jesus and His blood on the cross.”  Romans 3:22-26, Ephesians 2:8-9

  • Do you encourage others and demonstrate yourself how to live a life that is pleasing to God, following His examples for a Holy life?

The scriptures show how Jesus and His followers lived and what God expected of men, women, and children in leading lives approved of by God.  All humans sin, even after becoming believers.  God’s Holy Spirit reveals the sin and keeps after you until you turn away from wrong behaviors and allow Him to guide you to righteousness living.  Watching the actions of people who say they are believers or Bible teachers is the way Jesus says you can tell whether they’re really broadcasting God’s message:

“Beware of false prophets who pretend to be believers… You will know them by their fruits…a good tree bears good fruit…”  Matthew 7:15-20

JESUS CHRIST is truly the KEY element in the Christian faith!  

No other person, belief, or message is the way to connect with God for eternity:  

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is NO other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12

Pray and ask God to lead you to the right group of believers who meet regularly. He created you to worship Him, pray to Him, and teach about Him with other people – for their benefit and yours. He promises that when you ask Him for His help, He will guide you to where He has a purpose He designed particularly for you!

“…Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:3-6

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