Guidelines For Picking a Biblical Based Church

How do you know the church you are considering is the right church? How do you know the church you are attending is the right church. This decision is a critical part of the believers' spiritual walk.

It is in the fellowship of other believers that the relationship to both God and man is nurtured, with the results being spiritual maturity. This relationship of the believer to God is in the context of holiness. This holiness should be displayed by actionable / demonstrable love (John 15:12 ) and in obedience to God. (John 14:15,21) according to his word.

The Bible tells us that apostasy and heretical teaching would abound in the institutional church at the end of the church age, therefore picking a church home is not an easy task no matter where you reside on planet earth. Unfortunately an ever increasing number have abandoned Biblical teaching, making the task to pick a Bible believing church more difficult and time consuming. Despite the effort required in picking the right church it is vital that one do so, picking the right church reduces the risk of being spiritually deceived.(Eph 4:11-15)

Before you continue, keep in mine there is no perfect church, the church consist of imperfect human beings, who are saved by the grace of God. This is not to say that the Biblical standard for choosing a church should be lowered but our expectation concerning those whom we encounter within the church should be reasonable and practical and with an attitude of forgiveness and grace.

There are numerous good sites with varies criteria for choosing a church. I believe the Bible teach that assessment should be done in at lease the following nine categories. These categories should have an emphasis reflecting the 21 century church culture in light of the non changing Biblical directive. These categories are applicable regardless of church size. A church who is biblically sound in the following areas would typically indicate a sound church.

1.The Bible is taught systematically and in its entirety (book by book verse by verse) - Matt 4:4; Acts 20:26-27;  2 Tim 3:16 This should be the main thrust of teaching from the pulpit and Sunday School, with and occasional topical study. Topical studies are typically done during the midweek services or classes during the course of the week, may also be taught between books during Sunday morning service. 2. Doctrinal Integrity  - 2 John 1:9; Titus 1:7-9  - Ask for the church's doctrinal statement, read it carefully along with your Bible to see if it aligns up. If you read something that seems questionable or you don't understand what is being conveyed, ask questions. If your questions are brushed off or treated with indifference, this is a sure sign that this is not the church for you; leave.

If the church has no doctrinal statement, leave, in an age where people are believing any and everything, it is imperative that a church clarifies its core doctrinal beliefs. Which should be Biblically based
3. Doctrinal Practice Doctrine for the sake of having doctrine is useless unless it's internalized and integrated into the behavior of the believer (Titus 2:1; James 1:22-27). Therefore a church based on biblical truth should conduct itself to the same. 

If a church's behavior practices differs from its doctrinal statement, leave. This practice of duplicity is a sure sign that something is wrong.
4. Loving, Interpersonal Relationships among believers - There should be genuine care and concern for fellow believers (John 13:34; John 15:12,17; 1 John 2:9; 1 John 3:17; 1 John 3:23; 2 John 5
5. Biblical Separation -find out what institutional associations the church may have and what do these institutions believe.

Avoid a church that have associations and or invite those who do not hold to Biblical truth. (2 John 1:8-11)

This not and injunction against all associations with unbelievers. (1 Cor 5:9-11, 1 Cor 10:27) Paul encourage the Christian believer who is married to a non Christian to remain in the marriage as long as possible. The relationship association to avoid is one involving shared purposes and activities. This partnership is seen in the relationship context of those who are unequally yoked, with those (Buddhist and Christian or a Mormon and Christian, Non Bible believing church with a Bible believing church, etc.) who do right according to God's word and those do not follow God's word. (2 Cor 6:14).
6.Evangelism of the Loss / Missions - This is a task given by Jesus himself. One should find and active involvement by the local church in participating and supporting missions, (Matt 28:19-20) both local and abroad.
7. Discipleship - The church should be engaged in "making disciples". "making disciples" should be brought about by sound Biblical teaching and exhortation to live out a biblical word view. 8. Do not rush to join a church, take the time to investigate what the church is about. (1) Visit the Sunday school class  (2) Talk to others about the church, talk to the Sunday school teacher, on church beliefs and practices (3) take notes during the Sunday Service and review them (4) Attend the new beginners class if its available.

These allow you to learn of the church's mission, vision, organization structure, etc  (5) Know what the Church's institution Associations i.e. other churches organizations etc (6) Make arrangements to talk to the pastor if he has not already visited you.

It has been my experience that it takes about two - four months to gain a comprehensive understanding of what the church is all about (7) If what you have discovered about the church aligns up Biblically, by all means join, get involved with the church's ministry according to how  God has called / gifted you, support your church financially and with your time.

9. Avoid churches if the following is being taught: [not all movements listed. Only the current major movements are covered]

(a) Word of Faith " - This movement is also known as the 'name it and claim' or 'health and prosperity movement'. Proponents are:

Not an exhaustive list:

For more information see article/video's

(b) Purpose Driven - Teaching based off of "Purpose Driven Church"  by Rick Warren paradigm. 

(c)Seeker Sensitive  - This is a technique that seeks to market the church through secular market strategy, surveys, polls and other business techniques, rather than beginning with scripture on what God says the church should be. This primarily is an attempt to please the unbeliever rather than Christ. The Primary promoter of this movement is Bill Hybels. Look for any affiliation to Willow Creek in Chicago.

(d) Contemplative Spirituality - contemplative spirituality is primarily centered on meditation where one quiets the mind, although not meditation with a biblical perspective but more in line with eastern meditation as found in Hinduism.

Passages such as Joshua 1:8 and Ps 1:1-2; 119:15; encourage us to meditate, with the focus of the meditation being the Word of God. Also the meditation of God's word is to be done both day and night (Joshua 1:8; Ps 119:97).
Contemplative spirituality-driven meditation focuses on nothing, quite literally. This meditation is done via the practice of centering prayer also called breath prayers, listening prayers and is said to bring one close to God.
The following is a list of contemplative advocate, not an exhaustive list

(e) Teaches more about self improvement that about Christ - Churches that focuses in on self rather than the person of Christ. Teaching the Bible systematical easily avoids this.

(f) More Avoids (used Article How To Find a Good Church by Don Koenig as a base)
Avoid churches that allow those who live in flagrant sinful lifestyles to have leadership positions
•Avoid churches that add works, obedience, or keeping rules of their church as a requirement for salvation
•Avoid churches that go beyond what scripture teaches to new "truths", doctrines and experiences
•Avoid churches that say unfulfilled prophetic scripture to Israel is now spiritualized to the Church
•Avoid churches that avoid teaching certain parts of the Bible
•Avoid churches that primarily have Bible studies out of books and magazines instead of the Bible
•Avoid churches that have a women pastors or women teaching men as standard practice in the church
•Avoid churches that say tradition is as important or more important than what is written in scripture
•Avoid churches that think Christian fellowship means fellowship only one or two hours on Sunday
•Avoid churches whose leaders manipulate you or coerce you to do things you do not feel God wants you to do or has gifted you to do
•Avoid churches whose leaders think they have a special anointing and who have new direct revelations or words from the Lord
•Avoid churches that teach that you can speak things into existence
•Avoid churches that believe the gifts of prophecy and tongues can be learned
•Avoid churches where prayer is by rote
•Avoid churches that say other books besides the Bible are also the word of God
•Avoid churches that teach you that you can hear from God or Jesus by listening for voices in your own head
•Avoid churches where salvation only comes after following their own methodology of baptism
•Especially avoid churches that do not hold to any of the foundations of the faith as found in the apostles creed

How to find a good Church by Don Koenig

Letter to the Editor: How Can I Find a Good Bible-Believing Church?