We recently made a pretty big move to a new state, and one of the first things on the agenda was to start looking for a new church. In our last location, we had quite the difficult time finding a church that we loved + that was actually biblically based. About 6 months before we moved, we found an amazing church, but of course…we then had to move.
We used to just look for churches online that had a young-looking vibe and decent music. That’s pretty much the only criteria we had. Once we attended in person, we would see how the service made us feel. If we felt emotionally good about it, we would continue going. That is NOT a great way to find a solid church home.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?Jeremiah 17:9 ESV
Because of our previous experiences, we are going into the new church process with a pretty good idea of the type of church we are looking for! I thought it might be helpful to share our criteria with you. 🙂
This is more so important to me, but my husband does want a lot of scripture involved in the teaching. If you can think of a time that a certain sermon had you scrambling to keep up with the amount of scripture references…that’s what my husband is looking for. 😉
Expositional teaching simply refers to a sermon in which the pastor is teaching verse by verse through a book of the bible. The opposite of this, and what is most common, is when a pastor is preaching on a particular topic or series & is pulling verses from different parts of the bible for the sermon.
This, and everything else listed in this post, isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, BUT I believe this type of teaching provides a lot of biblical accountability. I also have found in our experience that this type of teaching steers pretty clear of the prosperity gospel message that is so prevalent in our culture.
Views on Children
We are looking into what kinds of programs the church has for children, but mainly, we are interested in the views of the church on children remaining in service with their parents. We are concerned with the children’s programs simply because you can tell a lot about a church by how they treat their children. Are the children being genuinely taught during their time in the program, or is it more of a babysitting service?
We prefer to keep our son in the service with us in order to learn together and work on skills like sitting quietly & listening. But it’s still very eye-opening to take a look at how the church treats children.
This is cut and dry. We would not be attending a church in which the pastor was a women. Nothing against women, obviously! 😉 However, scripture is clear on the role of women in the church.
Is the pastor running the show on his own, or is there a good system of elders and other leadership to keep things on the right track? We have attended a few churches in which there was little to no accountability for the church leadership. It’s important for there to be many people to share the responsibility & burden of the job of leading the church flock.
We aren’t looking for a flashy website! However, you can often tell a lot about a church by the first impression they put forward online. Is the wording on the website very clearly indicating their biblical standing? Or is the wording flowery & vague? A church that doesn’t clearly state what they believe probably doesn’t have a firm foundation to stand on in the first place.
This is a bit of a trickier topic, and we don’t even all agree entirely in our house. I’m definitely more passionate about this topic than my husband. 😉
The video above gives more information, but basically, I’m not a huge fan of Bethel Music, Hillsong, Elevation Worship, or Jesus Culture. I’m always curious to see if a church plays these bands regularly or not. Now, this is not a deal-breaker, but it can be concerning.
The theological standing of the home churches for these bands can, at times, be quite questionable. Therefore, there are many songs played by these bands that have lyrics without a firm standing in scripture.
If a church is playing these types of songs on a regular basis, I have a lot of questions about that. Do they know about the issues with the churches these bands are associated with? If so, what is the reasoning for playing the music during worship? Do they feel that these issues aren’t a big deal? Are they only playing songs from these bands that they have properly vetted for correctness?
This may not seem like a big deal. I mean, it’s just music, right?
The worship portion of the service is usually around 20 minutes. That’s a pretty large chunk of time for an 1-1.5 hour service. Worship is a way to praise the Lord & prepare our hearts for the message or to response to the message. It’s a big deal. We must always ensure we are worshiping in spirit AND truth. For that reason, the music played during the service is something I am deeply concerned about!
Lastly, we are always curious about what bible translation is being used for the teaching. There are some bible translations that are clearly more reliable than others, so it’s good to factor this in when looking for a church. Is a reliable translation being used? Are multiple translations being used in a way to make things easier to understand OR to better prove the pastor’s “points”?
In my opinion, it’s always better to elevate our reading comprehension to the level of scripture instead of finding a version that is “relatable”. However, reading a translation that you can understand is better than reading nothing at all! It’s probably just a good idea to ensure that the translation you’re using & the translation your church is using is a reliable one.
That’s it! I hope this was helpful to you & gave you some ideas on things to be aware of in your own church search!