Imagine you're standing on a chair, and someone else is on the floor. Is it easier for you to pull them up to the chair or for them to pull you down to the floor? This is the example set for us in trials. Non-believers drag Christians back to an ungodly way of thinking and a sinful manner of responding to stress. But believers help each other in trials. Hebrews 3:13 instructs believers to, “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
God's desire for His children is not that we travel this journey alone, but that we grow together, edifying each other.
God’s desire for His children is not that we travel this journey alone, but that we grow together, edifying each other. Believers are called to minister to one another and do so by reminding each other about the Savior and the great things He has done.
Hebrews 10:23-25 teaches, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
God knows how important it is for us to have fellowship and to grow closer to Him by learning more about Him. Believers meet together, not to sit in pews and show off their best outfits, but so that through worship, Bible study, and prayer Christ may become more real and powerful in each person’s life. Believers meet together to remind each other that God is faithful, and that His people are to be faithful, too.
So how does one go about choosing a church? Finding a church should begin with prayer and reliance upon God. Practically speaking, there are things you should look for when determining if the church you're interested in is healthy and effective.
1. The first area of concern is doctrinal. What is the church teaching? There are eight doctrines of the church that are indispensable when seeking a fellowship that is teaching the truth.
- The Bible—Does the church teach that the Bible is the Word of God? Second Timothy 3:16 teaches, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Does the church advocate this doctrine?
- The Deity of Christ—Does the church teach that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but that He is God?
- The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ—Does the church teach that the Holy Spirit placed Him in the womb of the Virgin Mary?
- The Bodily Resurrection of Christ—Does the church teach that Jesus fully conquered death and did all He said He would do, rising on the third day after His crucifixion?
- The Second Coming—Does the church teach that Jesus is coming again?
- The Judgment—Does the church teach that there is a time for each person to stand before almighty God and give an account for his or her life?
- Heaven and Hell—Does the church teach that Christ’s judgment will result in different eternal destinations for people?
- Salvation—Does the church teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, went to the cross and died a sacrificial, atoning death ... and that His sacrifice is the only avenue of salvation?
Finding a church should begin with prayer and reliance upon God.
2. The next area of concern in finding a church is examining whether or not the church is building your faith and discipling you. Is the church strengthening your relationship with God? Is the church enabling you to understand Scripture, teaching you scriptural principles for living? Is the church providing avenues through which you can serve?
3. The last area is discovering if the church has a ministry to the world. Is the church concerned about people around the world who have never heard the gospel? Is it evangelistic and missions minded? Is it making an impact in its community and globally?
Church membership is essential for the growing Christian. Do not be like the lone gazelle that is caught by the ravenous lion. Increase your love for Christ and for the people of God by joining a church. Find a church that will teach you about Christ, be your support in difficult times, and teach you how to serve the Lord with your life. Join, get involved, and let your life count around the world.
Father, how grateful I am for Your Word. Thank You for Your church, and the people who love and serve You daily. I pray the Holy Spirit will lead me to a vibrant, growing church. I pray that I may learn more about You and learn to serve You in new and wonderful ways. Help me to find a church and find my own place within the church so that I might bring You honor and glory. I ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.