Finding the Right Church 1 Cor. 12: 18 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Finding the right church can be difficult. We have been asked numerous times by folks if we can help them find the right church when they are moving to a new city. So, here are some recommendations we have for you that should help you in your decision.
The Holy Spirit must lead you to the place he wants you to grow and serve. And you need to follow him [Rom 8:14; Jn 16:13]. Though I believe 1 Cor 12:18 applies to the body of Christ as a whole, I also believe that it has a spiritual and practical application to a local church. God has in mind the church and the place in that church where he wants to set you. Therefore, another man can’t make the decision where you should attend for you, though, he can make some recommendations.
Keep in mind that one thing the Holy Spirit may be leading you to do is to stay put in the church you currently attend. Often, people are looking for another church because they aren’t “happy” with the one they’re in. If you are unsettled, you must prayerfully consider the honest reason that you are considering leaving. If the reason is Biblically doctrinal, that is, the pastor and the church have erred in their doctrine, then your reason may be legitimate. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed [Amos 3:3]. However, if the reason you are considering leaving is personal, then you must prayerfully take into account all aspects of your decision. Is my thinking emotional or rational [nearly every emotional reaction is wrong]? Who’s really at fault here [it may be you]? Have I exhausted all means of reconciliation [you may not have even tried]? And so forth. You may determine that the Holy Spirit isn’t trying to move you; you are just trying to run.
Furthermore, you must remember, if your decision to move is prompted solely by a career opportunity, not to ignore the presence of the right church where you are going before you commit to the new job. Some people are more concerned with their careers, their homes, their climate and their schools than they are with their church. Don’t go until you are sure you have a good church in which your family can grow and serve God. Lot’s only concern when he chose to move toward Sodom is that it was a good place to raise cattle. However, it was a terrible place to raise a family. A friend of mine turned down a job offer for double his six figure salary because there wasn’t a good church there. He has never regretted the decision.
In this age of the internet, you can learn a lot about a church by searching through their website. Often, churches post their statement of faith. Read it very carefully. See if there is anything in it with which you disagree. If you are uncertain about anything, write down your questions and email them to the church. Or, if you are going to visit the church, set up an appointment to visit with the pastor or one of his associates to discuss your questions. And, whatever you do, go for the purpose of learning, not for the purpose of changing them or arguing with them. You’re wasting your time and theirs.
Often churches post their sermons and Sunday school lessons online. Listen to some of them and determine whether what is being preached and taught aligns with the Bible and edifies you. That way you know what to expect when you visit the church. With our radio broadcast and website, we often have visitors who have listened to our preaching for months before attending. They know exactly “what they’re getting into” when they visit. There aren’t any surprises.
Ask your pastor for a recommendation. I have had many people over the years ask me for recommendations on churches in the area where they are moving. This is a great way to learn about like-minded congregations. It takes much of the “guess work” out of your decision. If there is more than one good church in the area, we let them know so that they can visit them.
When you have determined the place where you believe the Lord is directing you, be prepared to sit a while. When we have people visit here, we always tell them to sit a while to make sure that this is where God wants them to be. Don’t be in a rush to jump right in and get some ministry going in the church. People who have done that here have generally made a mess. By waiting, your gifts become apparent to the pastor and the needs of the church become apparent to you. Over time, the Lord is able to make it clear to you and the church where you “fit” in this local body of believers, if this is indeed where you fit.
When it comes to the issue of the King James Bible, there are several things to keep in mind. First, if you are a King James Bible believer, don’t be fooled by statements of faith that profess, “the King James Bible is the only Bible that we use here,” or some similar statement. Often, but certainly not always, that statement just means that the KJV is the only version they “use” in their church. It doesn’t mean that they believe the King James Bible is the word of God. Second, just because a church does believe the KJV is the word of God doesn’t mean that you are going to be a good fit. We have a few KJB churches in Corpus Christi and I can assure you that the members of these churches are very happy to be where they are. That is, they are happy there and would not be happy here.
Third, if you are not a King James Bible believer, don’t be alarmed. We have a number of members who came here with no appreciation for the King James Bible and no convictions one way or the other about whether the words in that Bible are God’s words. All we did is simply preach and teach the words of God, with very little comment about the King James Bible. In time the folks have come to a very strong conviction that they have God’s words in writing and that their doctrine comes from God’s words and not from some scholar’s opinion about what he thinks God’s words ought to be.
In other words, if these folks had made the King James Bible a subject of contention from the beginning, they never would have attended the services and grown to serve the Lord in this church. Today, they profess that they are very glad “the Lord” led them to our church. So, with that said, don’t restrict the leadership of the Holy Spirit by excluding churches from the list where the man behind the pulpit believes that the King James Bible is the word of God. He may actually be the pastor that God has for you.
Just so you’ll know, I am a King James Bible believer. God spoke his words [Job 23:12; Matt 4:4], prophets spoke them [2 Pet 1:19-21], a great company published them [Ps 68:11], God promised to preserve them [Ps 12:6-7], they are found in a book [Is 34:16; 2 Ki 22:8], and he promised to inspire them so that you can understand them [2 Tim 3:16-17; Job 32:8]. Therefore, they have to be in writing around here somewhere. Today, they are found in the King James Bible.
If I were you, I’d pray diligently for God to lead me to the right church and I would pray for the grace to be teachable. I would check everything on the authority of God’s words. If the man preaching doesn’t believe that he has God’s words in his hands and on the pulpit when he preaches, I’d be hard pressed to stick around and listen to him jabber about his understanding, interpretation or rendering of God’s words. I want to be where God has the liberty to speak to me through the preaching and teaching of his words. And once there, I would support that pastor and submit myself to him.