I hate church shopping. I did it in college. My senior year I finally found the church I was looking for. There was one problem, though—they couldn't remember my face or my name. It seemed like every week they wanted to meet me again.
When I moved to Indiana after college, I remember praying more than anything else for a solid, Bible-teaching church where I could get plugged in quickly and serve. My first week of work, I asked my new fellow employees about their churches. Based on their answers, I knew which church I was going to visit that Sunday.
After my initial visit, I didn't check out any other churches in the area. That first Sunday, I felt like I was fed more than I'd been fed in months. There was only one problem I could see—there were no singles my age in the church! But I took the plunge and became a member. I've been there for four years now.
In our fluid society, I realize that you may have to choose a new church several times in your life. What sorts of things should you look for when you're "church shopping"? Here are the ten most important questions you should ask when choosing a church, according to Pastor Joshua Harris in his book Stop Dating the Church:
- Is this a church where God's Word is faithfully taught—committed to the authority of Scripture?
- Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?
- Is this a church where the gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?
- Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?
- Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity? Do they meet the biblical qualifications for spiritual leadership?
- Is this a church where people strive to live by God's Word and are challenged to do so?
- Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?
- Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?
- Is this a church that is willing to kick me out? (If I fail to keep my vows to Christ or to live under the authority of God's Word, will it exercise biblical church discipline and seek to restore me?)
- Is this a church I'm willing to join "as is," with enthusiasm and faith in God? Can I fully and joyfully support this church's leaders, their teaching, and the direction they have set?
How about you? How did you choose your church? Do you agree that these are the most important questions to consider? Or would you add something to Pastor Harris' list?
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