What should I look for when trying to find a local church?
When a person becomes a Christian or moves to a new community, one priority is to find a good local church. While no church is perfect, what traits should a person seek when looking for a new church home?
First, look at the teachings of the church. The church's teaching should be based on the Bible as God's inspired Word. If the church rejects the inspiration of the Bible or makes tradition equal with Scripture, then it is to be avoided.
Second, look at the leadership of the church. Are its leaders biblically qualified to lead the congregation (based on 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1)? How long have the current leaders been at the congregation? Are the leaders of the church known for their integrity, love for God and people, and their ability to teach God's Word? If so, these are positive signs for a new potential church home.
Third, look at the members of the church. Do its members exhibit love toward one another and toward those in their community? What involvement is mentioned about helping the poor of their area or in serving in missionary activities worldwide? The engagement of people within the church is an important thing to consider when seeking to find a local church home.
Fourth, look at the priorities of the church. Does the church emphasize music, children's programs, or other areas that connect with you? While each church has certain areas of strengths and weaknesses, finding a place where you can serve is an important factor in deciding where to make your church home.
Fifth, look at the weekly worship service. Do the music, teaching, style, and format connect with you and your family? While some of these matters are cultural or a matter of preference, the Sunday worship service can serve as a strong indicator of whether this local church is a place where you can both grow and serve, both personally and as a family.
Sixth, look at the church's budget. Why? A church will reveal its priorities through where it invests its resources. If a large percentage of giving is directed toward international missions, for example, this is a strong indication that the church will focus much attention in this area.
Seventh, look at the opportunities to serve. Your new local church should be both a place of growth and service. Where and how would you serve in your new church home? Do you see ministry opportunities where you could help make a difference in the lives of others? If so, perhaps God is guiding you to the particular church to both be blessed and to bless others.
When looking to find a local church, examine the materials the church has available, ask questions of the leadership and church members, and try it out for yourself. There is no perfect church, but examining the areas mentioned above can help you find a local church home that honors God, changes your life, and allows you opportunities to connect and serve others. As with any decision, pray for God's help in finding the right local church.
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