Finding the right Church is never easy. I should know, after moving to the East Coast, I spent an entire year just sifting through the local congregations. Other Christians can most likely relate to the frustration of “Church shopping”. Without a Church to call home, your life seems to go adrift. You spend months searching for a new sanctuary, making awkward small talk in the pews and blundering your way through Bible studies. You get upset when things aren’t like your old church, then eventually realize you shouldn’t have been looking for your old church in the first place.
It’s a search that never gets any easier, but according to Brian Croft of The Gospel Coalition, there are certain questions that can at least point you in the right direction. Croft recommends you start by asking,
Is this a church where my family will be regularly fed by God’s Word?
“This is the first question that needs to be asked. Not just are they faithful to the Word of God, but will this church preach and teach in such a way that my soul and the souls of my family will be nourished? In other words, are they preaching expositionally through books of the Bible as the regular, steady diet of the congregation? This approach does not automatically answer this question, but it is a great place to start and evaluate.”
Is this a church where I am convinced the care of my soul will be a priority?
“Does this church have real pastors/elders who see their primary task to be the spiritual care and oversight of the souls of the members? In other words, just because they have powerful, biblical preaching does not mean your individual soul will be tended to on a regular basis. Ask the pastors. Ask other church members. It will not take much investigation on whether this work is a priority of the leadership of the church.”
Thom S. Rainer, of Baptist Press, also proposes Christians take a moment to investigate how the Church functions. Like humans, Churches can display symptoms of illness or breakdown. Rainer refers to this as “Churchianity” and warns seekers to be on the watch for things like,
Church Has Cliquish Membership
“The cliques can take different forms. One common clique is an informal power group in the church. They represent an informal alliance of typically longer-term members. In many ways, they consider the church ‘my church.’ Anyone has to get tacit approval from that group to get involved or to get anything accomplished…”
“Let us look at how we function in our churches. Is it biblical or is it a form of churchianity? If it is the latter, may we make a renewed commitment? If we are asked if we will continue to practice churchianity, let us respond without hesitation. ‘I will not.’”
If you are a believer struggling to find a new Church home, take some time to reflect on this advice. Your Church is more than a building and a steeple, it is your community. It is the place you go to find guidance and spiritual refreshment. If your congregation is not looking to the LORD, it will only lead you into disaster. The search may be difficult, but it’s worth the journey.
What about you? What would you say to someone searching for a new Church home? What counsel would you give?
**Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com