Going to and finding a new church can be quite hard. Some people only church shop and never settle down. Others find a church quickly and jump in with both feet. In this article, I want to help both the church shopper and those who are actively looking for a local church to find good churches that preach the Bible, provide help to the people visiting, good times of fellowship, help you grow in Christ, and have a gospel culture. Five key things should be considered regarding finding a local church home:
- Solid Bible Believing Church That Focuses on Christ.
- Friendly Pastoral and Church Staff.
- Open Authentic Transparent Fellowship.
- Gospel Loving, Discipleship Community, Growing in Relational Maturity.
- Gospel Culture.
Solid Bible Believing Church That Focuses on Christ
While I’ve intentionally put the preaching and teaching of God’s Word as the first priority in finding a good church, there are a lot of things that go into a church being a Bible-believing church that go beyond preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word. When you walk into a new church you should be welcomed. At my church, we welcome people at the doors as they walk into the building and as they walk into the sanctuary. I think this helps set the tone that your church is friendly towards visitors. You should also have an information center where people can learn more about your community with people knowledgeable about the church.
Now you’ve been greeted twice and walked into the sanctuary with the church bulletin. You are settling into the service and feeling welcomed. At my local church, we play one song and then greet one another. This is make or break time, folks. If you see someone new that sits around you please welcome them. You may only get one chance to welcome them and help them to see that this is their new home.
After the greeting and a few songs, the pastor at our church gets up and preaches. At my local church, we work our way through books of the Bible the vast majority of the time. This helps people to know which book and passage we are going to look at next. Expository preaching is the best way to help people learn how to read, study, meditate, and apply biblical truth to their lives. This is why a solid Bible believing church is more than just a church where the Bible is preached. A solid Bible believing church is where biblical preaching is actively reforming the people in the congregation around the gospel through the faithful preaching of the Word.
You’ve now heard the sermon and thought it was excellent. In addition, you appreciated how people welcomed you and even came up to you after the service to greet you. You are making your way to the information center to get information about the church when one of the pastoral staff walks up to you. This brings us to our next point.
Friendly Pastoral and Church Staff
At my local church, all of the pastoral and church staff are friendly. If you’re a pastor and you see someone new, let me encourage you to take the time to greet him or her. That will leave a lasting impression. If you’re the preaching pastor or the pastor preaching that day, make yourself visible after the service to greet people, answer any questions, and pray for people. Not only will visitors notice this but also members of your church will appreciate your emphasis on shepherding the flock.
Open Authentic Transparent Fellowship
At my local church, one of the things that kept my wife and me at our church, was the open, authentic, and transparent fellowship we experienced. This was refreshing to us because while we’ve both been to a lot of churches, we hadn’t experienced this a lot. Open authentic transparent fellowship is the fruit of a church that loves the Lord, loves the people at the church, and takes seriously the gospel.
You can tell a lot about a church by the way people treat one another in the foyer. Are you seeing people greet each other warmly? Or are you seeing a lot of people just coming into the service and then quickly leaving right after the service is over?
At my local church, there are a lot of people who spent time in the foyer and in the sanctuary afterward. You can tell that people have taken the time to build relationships with one another. For many people, good fellowship is the make or break thing for them. The teaching and music can be okay but if the fellowship isn’t great then most people won’t stay at your church. This starts with the pastoral staff and the leadership of the church, along with church members intentionally reaching out to people in the foyer or when they are walking throughout the church. This brings us to our next point.
Gospel Loving, Discipleship Community, Growing in Relational Maturity
So far we’ve considered preaching, a friendly pastoral staff, and open authentic transparent fellowship in the church. You might have great sermons, great music, and a whole laundry list of programs at your church, all of which is great. But the fruit of gospel preaching and community is people loving one another. This produces a community centered on the gospel where life on life discipleship occurs, resulting in the people growing in relational maturity. This is critical because when relationships are built, people will go deeper in the gospel together. This cannot occur without people connecting meaningfully with one another. This is why our next point is so important.
A gospel culture occurs when people are taught the Word and how to love the Word. This produces disciples who are hungry for the Word and to speak the Word into one another’s lives. This is a work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit desires to produce godly character in God’s people. This is why faithful, gospel preaching produces disciples who love one another and those around them. They are people who speak the truth in love seasoned with grace to each another. They build meaningful relationships with people for the purpose of walking alongside them in the midst of the stuff of life. A gospel culture doesn’t happen by chance: it occurs because of the Spirit and the commitment of the church to preach the Word in season and out of season. These types of churches see people growing in the Lord, with one another, and in maturity in Christ in every area of life.
In this post, I’ve briefly outlined five things to look for in a church. If you have to pick one or two of these things to look for in a church let me encourage you to find a church that believes and preaches the Bible and has great fellowship. This way you can learn from the Word and share openly with others. There is more that can be added to this list for sure but in conclusion, let me say that the gospel produces all five of these aspects of a good church.
God calls His people out of darkness into the light through the preaching of the gospel. God stirs His people affections through the preaching of the gospel so as to stimulate their growth in Christ. The end result of this is that people will love one another, build relationships, grow in maturity, and speak into one another’s lives—thus resulting in a culture of the church that is centered, not on their works, but on God’s grace. That’s what we as Christians should be about—seeing disciples of Christ loved into the Kingdom, growing to be like Christ, and being a community of faith known for faithfully declaring the gospel from the Word to the glory of God.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and is the Host for the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.