We heard that choosing to purchase a home is one of the most important decisions a person could make. In this temporary world it may be true.

However, choosing where you and your children will learn the things of God and serve the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal ramifications.

Every week at Grace to You we receive letters from people asking us to recommend a good church like Great Life Church Socal in their area.

These petitions indicate three types of people looking to make a wise decision: Those who are moving or are moving, new believers looking to choose a good church, and those whose current church has departed from biblical principles.

Such circumstances force us to consider what is really important in a church.

Is This Church Right For Me?

What is the biblical criteria you need to be aware of when considering a new church?

Let’s compare the search for a church with the search for a new house. When looking for a house, people typically ask: How much does it cost? Does it meet the needs of the family? How well is it built? What kind of neighbors are there? Does it have a warm and homey atmosphere? Is it conducive to hospitality?

Similarly, before choosing a new church you need to consider its foundation, structure, function, and environment.

Before we consider these important components, please realize that no church has to be perfect.

Some local churches may appear to be in excellent shape, while others may be in obvious decline! Many fall between the extremes.

You must seek God’s will and be guided by the Holy Spirit in selecting a church.

You also need to assess how much you and your family can contribute to that ministry, so that it is not just another church, but a true church.

Investigating Your Rationale

Jesus said that the wise man builds his house on the rock and the foolish man builds his house on the sand (Matt 7:24-27).

When the storm comes, the stability of the foundation determines both the direction and the durability of the structure. Whether you are looking for a home to live in or a church to worship in, your foundation is crucial.

There are four main components that make up the foundation of a strong local church:

A Correct Perspective of Scripture.

When investigating the potential of a local church, pay particular attention to its view of the Bible.

Do they uphold the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures? Do you believe that the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)?

An Emphasis on the Teaching and Preaching of the Bible.

Notice what kind of preaching is done. Is it primarily expository, topical, or evangelistic in nature? Is it a repetitive diet of salvation messages every week, are believers being fed by the Word (Acts 20:27; 1 Tim. 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:1-5)?

There must be a strong commitment to high-quality biblical teaching.

Doctrinal soundness.

Just as you would expect a solid foundation in a house, so you should research the doctrinal stance of the churches you visit.

What is their position on important issues of the Christian faith such as the virgin birth and the deity of Jesus Christ; the depravity of man; Christ’s work on the cross, his death, burial, and bodily resurrection; salvation by grace through faith alone; the second coming of Christ; and the ordinances of baptism and communion?

Doctrinal Practice.

See if the church practices the doctrines it claims to believe and teach.

As James said to the church in general: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22; cf. Luke 6:46; John 13:17).

Examining Its Structure

Once you are satisfied with the foundational aspects of the church, you need to look at its structural components.

I was recently walking past a new house under construction. I noticed some posts that weren’t vertical, they didn’t seem to be standing properly and the beams were crooked and uneven. These were glaring structural flaws in a house that was advertised as a house built by “the last of the true craftsmen!”

The structural components of a local church provide not only its strength, but also dictate the character and direction of its ministry. These components include:

The Government of the Church.

Look for church leaders to function according to New Testament principles (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-20; Titus 1:4-9; Heb. 13:7, 17).

Do you understand the centrality of Christ as the head of the church and His desire to rule His church through the plurality of godly men (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 11:3)?

Evidence of Order.

The ministry of the church, including its services, teaching, and administration, should have an evident sense of order.

Some church services exhibit as much lack of planning as do houses with poorly studied blueprints.

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