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HOW DO I CHOOSE A CHURCH

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 e-mails that listeners have sent in. One that caught my attention the other day was a lady who asked, "How do I choose a church?"

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

"How do I choose a church?" is a fair question. The only way to answer it adequately is to appeal to Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

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

One needs to find a church that has only Christ as its Head (Colossians 1:18). Many man-made denominations have men who serve as living heads of the church. As the Head of the church, Jesus 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 Scriptural baptism adds one to the church (Acts 2:47). When one puts Christ on through faith (Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38), and baptism (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27), he is added to the church that Jesus died to establish (Acts 20:28). One must be in fellowship with God before he can be in fellowship with other Christians (1 John 1:6-10). It would be wrong to fellowship one who is in rebellion to God's commands (3 John 9-11).

One needs to find a church that chooses to wear 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 offense to God. The "whole family in heaven and earth is named" for Jesus Christ.

One needs to find a church that has the proper mission (Ephesians 3:10). The primary mission of the church is evangelism (Matthew 28:19). Many churches have forgotten their work. While fellowships and friend-ships with other Christians are good, they are not good reasons to attend church. The church should be engaged in benevolence, evangelism, and edification, but teaching Christ and His Gospel is paramount (Matthew 28:19; cf. Romans 1:16).

One needs to find a church that teaches sound doctrine (1 Peter 4:11). The only means of teaching sound doctrine is by directly appealing to Scripture in a "thus saith the Lord" manner (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If a church teaches things contrary to God's Word, one needs to find another church !

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

There are many ways one could choose a church—from throwing darts at the churches listing of the Yellow Pages to asking a radio talk show host! There is only one right way—open up God's Word and examine what God desires of the church and then seek that model out and attend regularly.

Johnny O. Trail
House to House
Volume 10, Number 1, page 8