With so many churches in Green Bay, WI, how do you choose? Which is best? A Baptist church? A Christian Church? A Community church? As you’ll see, there are much more important things than just the names of churches.
Part three of this article by trusted pastor and Bible teacher John MacArthur will help you make this all-important choice.
This is solid advice.
What should I look for when choosing a new church home? (Part 3) By John MacArthur
Checking Its Environment
If you have ever gone house hunting, you know what it’s like to walk through and sense the
atmosphere of the place. It can feel cold and gloomy or warm and inviting. It can have a homey feel
or it can be impersonal–almost like a museum.
Doubtless you have had the same experience when attending various churches. Certain observable
factors contribute to the overall atmosphere of a local church. Those environmental components are
usually manifested in attitudes.
A High View of God. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It should
be obvious that the people, from the leadership down, focus on the glory and majesty of God. Do they
take God seriously and exalt Him in all they do? Their view of God will affect every aspect of their
lives and ministry. Ask yourself if God is the focus of their worship or if they’re preoccupied with each
other or themselves.
The Presence of a Sincere Faith. Is it obvious to you that the church lives and operates by faith? Are
the people willing to trust God (Heb. 11:1, 6; Eph. 3:20; 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Thess. 5:24)?
Spirit of Sacrifice. Can you see that the church members are willing to sacrifice themselves and their
possessions to advance God’s kingdom (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 8:3; Matt. 6:33)? Do you sense they
would sacrifice themselves for one another (Phil. 2:3-4; John 15:13; Eph. 5:1-2)?
Proper Attitudes Toward the Pastor and Other Leaders. As you talk with the people, be sensitive to
how they regard their leaders. Do they appreciate and esteem the pastor and other leaders “very
highly in love because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:13)? Are they fully behind them, giving their spiritual,
emotional, and material support (1 Tim. 5:17-18; Heb. 13:7, 17)?
Spirit of Unity. This is often the most obvious attitude radiating from a local congregation. An outsider
is usually able to sense very quickly whether a church is unified in its ministry. That has a great effect
on its testimony to the community and reflects on the name of our Lord (John 13:34-35; 1 Cor. 1:10-
17; 3:1-9; Eph. 4:1-6; Phil. 2:1-5; 4:1-5).
Am I Right For This Church?
We have looked at the foundational, structural, functional, and environmental components of a vital,
healthy local church. Now look at yourself and ask, Are there opportunities here for me to serve and
exercise my spiritual gifts? Does this local body have a need that by God’s enabling I can meet? Am I
willing to get what the church can do for me, but also what I can do for the Lord as I serve Him in this
church? Am I willing to give of my time, money, energy, and prayers to contribute to the success of
this church (Mark 12:30; Rom. 12:1)?
A house is not a home until all the members of a family contribute to its success. The same is true of
a church home. Only when each member in the family of God exercises his or her God-given gifts will
God’s children feel at home in His church.
The decision you make about what church to attend will greatly affect your spiritual life and the lives
of your children. In fact, the decisions you make now will affect your descendants and the generations
to come. That’s a sobering reality.
Remember that no church will ever perfectly fulfill all these criteria. There is no perfect church. Also,
remember that every church is going to have its own special blend of the characteristics we have
examined. The key is to find a church that has them in proper balance, not overemphasizing some or
de-emphasizing others. A balanced ministry is a Spirit-controlled ministry. If you find a church that
possesses most but not all of the characteristics we’ve mentioned, don’t immediately disregard it.
Consider whether God wants to use you to help improve that local body as you exercise your own
particular spiritual gifts.
Choosing a church home is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make–one that
reaches into eternity. May each of us spend at least as much time and effort making that decision as
we do deciding on our earthly dwelling.