A question came through the Q-Box asking, “how do I know if I’m at the right church?”
I basically answered the question with the following points:
(First, it would be helpful to read my article titled “Submit to a Local Church” here: http://combatingunbelief.com/submit-yourself-to-a-local-church/)
1) The church was Jesus’ idea (Matthew 16:18)
2) The bible is clear that you need to submit yourself to church leadership (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
3) The early church didn’t have church the way we see in America today. There was 1 universal church, with smaller churches in each city, and even smaller local church gatherings within cities. So even though there were several churches, they were all under the same church leadership. There were no denominational divisions, and no church distinctions the way we have them today. Today, if you are tired of your church, you can go to the church down the street. In the bible, it wasn’t that way – you would have to deal with it and bear with one another.
4) With that being said, there was never such a thing as “church hopping”. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus gives some pretty strong words to some of the churches. If you were in the church of Ephesus, Jesus would have told you “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
He didn’t tell the Christians, “you better leave and go to a church that still loves me”. He told the church as a whole that they needed to repent – as the church.
5) I believe most church hopping is rooted out of boredom – not the bible, and not the Holy Spirit. The argument usually goes like this, “when I first started going to church, it was fun and exciting and I learned a lot. But now that I’ve been here for so long, it’s just like déjà vu every week: introductory prayer, 2 fast songs, announcements, tithe and offering, one more fast song, two slow songs, a 45 minute sermon, altar call, go home, and repeat next week.”
No matter what church you attend, it will get old if all you do is attend weekly services. You will leave one church and have fun at the next one… for awhile. Then it gets old again. You need to get plugged in and serve the kingdom by advancing the gospel alongside others in your church fellowship.
6) The body is multi-faceted – you are an extension of the multifaceted-ness of Christ’s body. Just because the church isn’t focused on the one aspect of God’s kingdom that you are, it doesn’t mean you leave and go to another church. That church probably needs what you have to offer. Even if they won’t accept what you have to offer, it doesn’t mean there are biblical grounds for leaving.
7) Even though most people leave churches for bad reasons, there are still biblical grounds for leaving a church
– If they are teaching damnable heresies
– If there is abundant, obvious, unchecked and unrepentant sin within the leadership, you should probably find another church to go to.
– If there is no place for you to serve and grow
– If God calls you to the mission field in another context, and you can be sent out with the blessing and recommendation of the church you submit to
8) If you are currently not connected with a local church, and are looking for a church to submit to, here are some questions you may want to consider:
– Does this church submit to the biblical standard for church eldership?
– Does this church teach, and practice the bible correctly in its essential points
– Is this church fulfilling the Great Commission
The list of questions, I’m sure, can go on forever. However, those three are at least some good ones to start with. You notice how none of the questions were “is this church perfect” or “does this church offer everything I prefer a church to have”. There is always going to be room for every church to grow… LOTS of room.
I hope that helps answer the question (whoever asked it)… Again, I believe it will help to read my article titled “Submit to a Local Church” here: http://combatingunbelief.com/submit-yourself-to-a-local-church/