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3 Crucial Questions to Ask a Church before Joining

white church building in rural area

Church is a word that can bring up a lot of various emotions in people. Some of us have had positive experiences, and some negative. The fact is that there is no perfect church in the world. However, as believers, we are called to get connected with the local church (Hebrews 10:24-25). When selecting where that is, there are a few key questions we should ask before joining a church.

1. Does the Church Preach That Jesus Is the Only Way?

John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

A church that preaches that Jesus is the only way to be forgiven and go to Heaven is a great sign. When a church tries to teach that there are any other ways to Heaven or that Jesus was just a prophet, let this be a warning that this is not the church of Jesus. God’s Word is clear through the message of Christ Himself that we are only saved from our sins by faith in Christ and through His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If a church is teaching that Jesus is anything but fully God, they are not claiming the truth of the gospel and who Jesus said that He is. If a church is claiming that all religions lead to heaven, they are not teaching the truth of the Bible that Jesus claimed to be the only way. If you are encountering this type of church, get out quickly and look for a healthy Jesus-seeking church. Be careful because many people will falsely use the name of Jesus, but not share the truth of His message. Always test a pastor with the Bible.

Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!

2. Does the Church Support the Core Doctrines?

There are many different interpretations of the non-essentials of Scripture. However, there are core doctrines that need to be supported by a church in order for us to attend confidently.

- Jesus was Fully God and Fully Man. He is the Son of God, equal to God. He came to earth, died on a cross for our sins, and rose for the salvation of all who believe in Him. He is our Lord and Savior. (1 John 4:2-3, John 8:58)

- Jesus lived the perfect life and never sinned. (2 Corinthians. 5:21)

- The Trinity: God is three in one. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 13:14, John 10:30, Matthew 3:16-17, and Genesis 1:1-2)

- After life on earth, we will either go to heaven or hell for all eternity. (Matthew 25:46, John 14:2, Revelations 21:7-8)

- All have sinned and the only way to be reconciled back to our Creator God is through believing in Jesus. (Romans 3:23)

- We are saved only by grace alone (a gift through Christ) through faith alone (trusting in what Jesus had done, not ourselves). It is not by our works or good deeds in any way that we receive eternal life through Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

- The Bible is Inerrant (without error) and the Perfect Word from God. (1 Timothy 3:16-17)

If a church denies any of these, I would look elsewhere. These are essentials to the Christian faith and are a helpful guide when looking at a church. It is beneficial to look over a church’s website and click on their beliefs before stepping foot into the building. This way you know if the essentials are being taught and do not have to wonder about their core beliefs.

3. Does the Church Uphold the Integrity of the Bible?

This one can be tricky. In today’s world, there is a serious issue within churches. Some are not upholding the truth of the Bible. They are trying to reform to the culture instead of holding to the truth of God’s Word. When learning about a church’s beliefs, it is vital that you ask questions about where they stand on the Bible. God is very clear that we are never to add or take away from His inspired Word (Deuteronomy 4:2).

This means that we examine a church by if they teach from the Bible, if they acknowledge the Bible is God’s inspired Word, and if they teach that the entire Old and New Testaments are relevant to us today. Ultimately, we are each accountable to the Lord. If the culture does not like a certain Bible passage, this does not mean we neglect that passage. We also should not think that we have better rules than the Bible or require extra ones on top of it that are not commanded. This is legalism. Avoid such churches.

If a church is straying away from the integrity of the Bible, there will either be no standards or legalism. Watch out for both. It is very easy for watered down teaching and worship to creep in. It is also very easy for the church to lose the heart of the gospel for works.

Next time you are pondering about where you should attend church or if you should continue where you are, ask these questions. Remember that it does not matter if the church has the best worship band in the world or the most charismatic pastor. It does not matter if the programs are awesome and building is beautiful. It matters that it is a Christ-focused, core doctrine supporting, Bible upholding place. Ultimately too the leadership will be living out these core beliefs from a place of genuine love and will be led by the Holy Spirit.

We are called to devote ourselves to joining together publicly to read the Bible and listen to teaching together. The church is supposed to be a place of unity, building one another up, and spurring each other on in faith. It is vital to remember that there is and never will be a perfect church, however the Lord is refining us as the bride of Christ and He gifts us with the community of being together.

1 Timothy 4:13 says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Robert Crum

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com

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