Church 101: How Do I Find A Good One?

By   •   August 4, 2009

“Where should I go to church?” New believers seeking a church home, longtime Christians relocating to an unfamiliar place—and even those well entrenched in a particular church—must face this question head-on.

The decision is perplexing because so much of what passes for “church” today isn’t really church, at least not as the New Testament presents it to us.

If you are seeking a church home, the only place to discover what really matters is in the Bible. Acts 2:42-47 offers us a blueprint for church life.

Here are some of the key principles:

(1.) “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”

The first thing we discover about this early church is a commitment to the teaching of the apostles. Today we have this very same teaching in the Bible. Nothing is as important as this—not a large congregation, a witty pastor or tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s supreme instrument for renewing His people in the image of Jesus.

Unfortunately, preachers who distort God’s Word are all too common today. Sometimes this springs from a sincere desire to soften hard hearts. But hearts aren’t changed by compromise. A preacher may be tempted to water down the truth about sin and the need for repentance, or the difficult parts about the Incarnation and Atonement, and replace them with misguided promises of personal prosperity or a focus on political issues. Or a preacher may adopt an anecdotal technique, departing from Scripture in favor of amusing stories.

A good church is a Bible-centered church that has a commitment to sound doctrine.

(2.) “They devoted themselves … to the fellowship. … they gave to anyone as he had need”

When we think of “fellowship,” we tend to think in terms of fun times with like-minded people, but biblical fellowship is much more than socializing. Believers share a common life because we share faith in one Savior and have been reconciled to God the Father through Him.

Fellowship within the church operates much like a family, which also means that times of confrontation are necessary. A good church will practice church discipline for the good of the whole congregation and most especially for the spiritual welfare of the erring believer.

Inherent in true fellowship is a call to generosity. In Acts we see that money was collected and given to those in genuine need. A good church, therefore, is one that seeks to distribute with sacrificial generosity its resources to those in need.

(3.) “And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved”

While these early believers were learning, worshiping and sharing, they were not doing so at the expense of evangelism. The Early Church grew in number daily.

Yet who did the adding? Christ did. As the head of the Church, Christ is the One who adds to the Church, typically through the preaching of the Word, worship and the voice of believers spreading the Gospel.

If you are seeking a church, seek one where the Word is proclaimed. Seek a church where the fellowship is characterized by joy and generosity, and where the Gospel is boldly proclaimed. It’s that simple.

We’re very disillusioned and have just about given up on finding a new church:
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How can we decide whether or not to change churches?
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I’ve always been shy, and I guess that’s why I’ve never joined a church.
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What should a person look for in a church?
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