How Do I Choose a Church?

by Johnny O. Trail

One radio station in Nashville does nothing but talk radio. As an avid talk radio listener, I am always interested in the questions and comments of those who call in. On one show, the host deals exclusively with emails that listeners have sent in. The other day, one that caught my attention was a lady who asked, “How do I choose a church?”

The host suggested she consider churches as communities and that she simply needed to find one that had people who most suited her needs for friendship. While friendship in a church is important, this approach lacks much in content.

“How do I choose a church?” is a fair question. The only way to answer it adequately is to appeal to Scripture (II Timothy 3:16).

One needs to find the church founded by Jesus (Matthew 16:18). Jesus told Peter that He would build His church. Thus, the church is Christ's possession. It is not man-made; it is the bride of Christ (Romans 7:4).

One needs to find the church with only Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18). Many man-made denominations have men who serve as living heads of the church. Jesus (through His Scripture) is the only authority (Matthew 28:18-20) to which a church can appeal for an answer about its work, function, and membership.

One needs to find a church that offers the biblical method for membership. The New Testament church did not vote on whether a person was allowed membership. The Bible teaches that when one puts on Christ through faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3), and baptism (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27), the Lord adds him to the church that Jesus died to establish (Acts 2:47). One must be in fellowship with God before he can be in fellowship with other Christians (I John 1:6-10). It would be wrong to fellowship one in rebellion to God’s commands (III John 9-11).

One needs to find the church that wears a biblical name (Ephesians 3:14-16, cf. Romans 16:16). When a church wears a name that cannot be found in the Holy Writ, it is an offence to God. The “whole family in heaven and earth is named” for the Lord.

One needs to find a church with the proper mission (Ephesians 3:10). The church is a worshipping society with a teaching mandate (Matthew 28:19). Many churches have forgotten their work. While fellowships and friendships with other Christians are good, they are not the best reasons to attend church. The church should be engaged in benevolence, evangelism, and edification, but teaching Christ and His gospel is paramount (cf. Romans 1:16).

One must find a church that worships God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God desires our worship, and we need to be sure that we worship in the way that pleases Him.

There are many ways to choose a church — from throwing darts at church listings to asking a talk radio host. There is only one right way: opening up God’s Word and examining what God desires of the church, then seeking that church, becoming a member, and attending regularly.

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