The process of joining a new church can sometimes be difficult as it is a big decision to make, especially when there are so many churches to choose from. And hey, if there are so many churches, why shouldn’t we just join the first church we walk into on a Sunday morning?
The reason why is simply that people get things wrong, even in good intentions, so it’s important to know that you agree with the body and mission of the church you’re about to join and that the mission and beliefs of the church line up with what the Bible teaches.
What questions should Christians ask before joining a local church?
- Does the church teach from the Bible?
- What is the church’s involvement in global missions?
- What is the church’s strategy for discipleship?
- Is the church activating and engaging all the members to use their gifts for the good of the church?
- How does the church define success?
- How are the finances handled?
- How is the church’s leadership set up?
- Does the church have a commitment to loving correction?
In addition to these direct questions to ask, you can answer a few questions on your own by observing the culture of the church. What are they singing about during worship? Is it theologically sound? Is the teaching based on scripture, etc?
1. Does the Church Teach from the Bible?
Your first instinct might be, “well of course they do, its a church.” But there several kinds of preaching, and sometimes pastors will preach a message and use the bible to only to support it, or even simply throw in a verse here and there. But it’s important that preachers and teachers use the Bible to form sermons.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:14-20
This kind of preaching is called expository preaching this is the literal definition:
- A setting forth of the meaning or purpose
- Discourse or an example of it designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand
Expository preaching is literally preaching the Bible and using what the Bible says to inspire and shape the message you intend to give to the congregation.
2. What is the Church’s Involvement in Global Missions?
Involvement in missions looks like supporting missionaries who are already overseas, sending missionaries in the body, doing short term missions, etc. And It is important to be a part of a local church that is actively engaged in missions.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20
Churches that are engaged in overseas mission work are being obedient to The Great Commission from Matthew 28 and create and in and out cycle. Christians are supposed to come to church, be filled and then go and pour out to those who are lost.
3. What is Their Strategy for Discipleship?
Discipleship is such a deeply important aspect of a healthy church and it is often a neglected part. Discipleship is the way in which believers grow and enter into a deeper walk with God.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
It’s important to also understand that it’s the whole church’s responsibility to disciple and spur one another on, so make sure to look for and ask if there are intentional ways that the church implements and practices discipleship.
4. Is the Church Activating and Engaging all the Members to Use Their Gifts for the Good of the Church?
It’s important to ask leadership how the church body is engaged and activated in the church. Are there opportunities to use your giftings? What areas can you volunteer in?
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.1 Corinthians 12:13-14
The whole body of Christ is meant to be active, alive, and working together, not simply coming to a Sunday service and then leaving. The local church should be empowering and providing opportunities to contribute to the Church in the way that God has called them.
5. How Does the Church Define Success?
It’s important to understand what the leaders and elders of the church define as success? Is it in line with what Jesus taught in the Bible?
Again, looking at the Great Commission, does it line up with Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations? Are they seeking to create an in and out culture––raising up believers who are leaders, living Godly lives who take the Gospel to every corner of the earth?
6. How are the Finances Handled?
This is often a sensitive subject, but it’s nevertheless an important one. Just a couple of questions that should be asked are: How are the church funds being used? Are the tithes and offerings going towards caring for widows and orphans? Are they supporting missions? What’s the biggest line-item on the budget? It’s important to find a church whose financial priorities are in line with Scripture.
7. How is the Church’s Leadership Set Up?
In the Bible, we see a specific outline for how church leadership is to be set up, in Titus Paul gives instructions on how to appoint elders and how they are to live. So it is important to understand how the church has set up its leadership.
Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.Titus 1:7-9
Questions to ask would be, are there elders in place? Does leadership have accountability? Who do they answer to, etc?
8. Does the Church Have a Commitment to Loving Correction?
Correcting a brother or sister can be a scary thing and the act of actually carrying out proper rebuke and correction can be put on the back burner by church leaders. People often get upset or offended, especially in the times we live in or claim that they were treated poorly. So it’s very important for leadership and the body of believers to understand correction done in love.
If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.Matthew 18:15-18
In Matthew, Jesus gives pretty clear instructions on how to do this in a way that is loving while showing that it is because of love that it is done. This is done for the love of the one who is in sin, and for keeping the Bride of Christ pure.
When on the lookout for a new church, keep these questions in mind and use them to help you decide if you want to make that your home church or not. Use your discernment and let these questions guide your decision.