Last Sunday, I wrote about preparing for a church search. A question that has to be asked, or most certainly will be asked, is. “What are you looking for in a church?” Since I’m just a little different from most people, for better or for worse, I approach that answer a little differently. I’m not looking for a certain size church. I’m not looking at a certain preaching style. I’m not looking for a certain style of music. The list I’m going to give is not original with me. It’s a list of characteristics that I’ve derived from Mark Dever’s little book, What Is A Healthy Church?
First, I’m looking for a church where the preaching is expositional. What I mean by that is that the one who proclaims the word does so in the context of the scripture. He tells the congregation what the word means before he ever tries to make any application to those of us listening. I understand that sometimes some stories will help illustrate, but don’t it shouldn’t be story time. The focus should be on the word of God. I think this is the center of worship for those of us who believe.
Second, I’m looking for a church where my biblical theology most lines up with theres. I want to go to a church where I am primarily on the same page as everyone else. Will some differences pop up? Sure. But I really want to be pulling in the same direction as the church I attend.
Next, I want the church to have a biblical understanding of the Gospel. This should be a given, but I’m not sure it is based on what I see and observe and hear from other folks. I want the church I attend to be united on this. Honestly, this should be central to the church.
Fourth, this church should have a biblical understanding of conversion. How does the church believes this takes place? Does it line up with what I believe the Bible teaches?
Fifth is a biblical understanding of evangelism. Does the church believe that they must sell the Gospel or do they present the gospel and trust the Lord to do His work?
Sixth is a biblical understanding of membership. What does the church believe about commitment? What are the expectations of the members? Are they high expectations or low expectations?
Seventh, I want to know if the church takes church discipline seriously. I don’t mean that the members are out looking for each other to screw up do that they can discipline them. I want to know that the church will not tolerate consistent, continuing sin and just gloss it over. I want to know that they will deal with it biblically.
Eighth, I want to know that this church will help me grow as a believer and follower of Christ. I want to know that what is going on in this church will make me more into what God wants me to be.
Finally, does this church have biblical church leadership. There can be a lot of disagreement with this. However, I believe that a church should have a plurality of elders. I believe that these in leadership are responsible for the spiritual direction of the church. I also believe that it helps keep the leadership accountable.
Now, are these things everything I’m looking for in a church? No. I think, though, that they are among the most important. Out of these, I am developing questions to ask myself and ask various people in the churches we visit so that I can determine if I want to land there. Please continue to pray for me.
What is important to you when thinking about looking for a church?