When looking to purchase a home years ago, I walked into an older home and fell in love instantly. The hardwood floors, a beautiful winding staircase and open ceilings had my heart. I dreamt that night of what those floors could look like oiled up and shining, and how I would decorate the banister for Christmas. However, after the inspection, I learned that my dream home was actually a nightmare. Fraying electric wires, small plumbing pipes in disrepair and termite damage were at the top of the list. I was crushed. No matter how much I loved the aesthetic– with those unseen bigger problems — there was NO WAY I would purchase that home. It was a lemon.
When looking for a great church, we can take a few lessons from buying a home and apply those to our hunt. Upon arrival at a new church, you may think you love the beauty of it, the comfortable seats, the funny humor of the pastor or the craft the kids brought home, and be sold! But wait! Take your time and always look deeper before committing to any church home.
Four Things to Look for in a Great Church
Looking deeper and paying attention to what may not be seen immediately will help you make a decision on where to hang your hat and heart in the years to come.
Beliefs: Learn the potential church’s beliefs. Most churches will list their statement of beliefs directly on their website. Read to see if this church has biblical beliefs. Next, attend a service. Does the message from the pulpit line up with the statement of beliefs?
There are four foundational biblical beliefs to look and listen for:
1. Do they believe in the Trinity? God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are all three in one God and therefore equal.
2. Do they believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God? A biblical church believes the Bible is supreme over all other books, without error, and applicable to our lives today.
3. Do they believe in a literal Heaven and Hell and that each person’s destiny is one place or the other? This is a foundation of scripture teaching.
4. Do they believe salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ? Our eternal salvation is wholly dependent on the saving grace of Jesus, not by our good works.
Worship: Once the above is nailed down, look to your other preferences, such as worship. Whether you prefer traditional, hymnal style or contemporary with a band, the songs should focus on God and worship of Him.
Children’s Programs: If you are looking for a great children’s program, your best move is to accompany your children (volunteer perhaps) during their teaching time and observe. Is the Bible being taught in a relevant way or are they merely being occupied?
Location: One of the main functions of the church is fellowship, so location is important. Can you get to this church easily to plug in and be a contributing member? Belonging to a church is much more than showing up and leaving. It should involve using your gifts to help others and building friendships that encourage you on your spiritual journey.
Finding a great church fit can take time and needs to be bathed in prayer. Do your research, listen, observe and attend numerous times before making a final commitment. If you do this, you will find God will lead you to a great place to plug in, and safeguard you from committing to a lemon!
Lori Joiner is an author, speaker and discipleship coach in Katy, TX. When not writing you can find her teaching group fitness classes at the Y, walking their chocolate lab with her husband Alan, or playing board games with her two sons, Josh (10 yrs) and Jake (8 yrs). You can reach out to her at www.LoriJoinerMinistries.org.