In our generation, there are many types of churches, with each one vying for your attendance. There are Fundamentalist and Separatist churches on one end of the spectrum, while on the other end there are modernistic, liberal and contemporary churches. There are hundreds of denominations in the United States. Among all of these choices, many people just give up, believing that if there is a church that is right, it would be too difficult to find. This attitude is very common, but it is not as difficult to find the truth in this matter as many believe. According to the Bible, finding and attending / supporting the right church can be so healthy for your own heart and the heart of your family.
If you are attempting to find the right church, then of necessity, you must go to the Bible for guidance, because it was in Bible days when the Christian church as we know it had its start. The word “church” in the Bible very simply means a “called out, or called together assembly of people.” Most often when you read the word church in the Bible it is referring to a local congregation of believers (for example: “The churches of Galatia,” “The seven churches of Asia,” “The church of God at Corinth, etc.). So in your search for the right church, you must go to the Bible and find out what it has to say about what a Biblical New Testament Church really is. The Word of God, as always, is our authority. Avoid making your decision based on current fads and philosophies in religion. Avoid making your decision based on who has the biggest church or who has the best music, etc. These things change as often as the seasons. So what does the Bible say a real church ought to be?
A New Testament church in the Bible believed certain core doctrines. They believed in:
The deity of Jesus Christ. That Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:8).
The trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. And these three are one God (Matthew 28:19; John 10:30-33; Acts 5:3,4; I John 5:7).
The Inerrancy and preservation of the Word of God. That the Bible is the final and only authority in matters of faith and practice (Psalms 12:7; II Timothy 3:16).
That Jesus died for sinners, was buried, and rose again bodily (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
The literal second coming of Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19:11-16).
Salvation is by grace, through faith in the shed blood of Jesus. Works play no part in saving a person or keeping that person saved (I Peter 1:18,19; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5-7).
Separation from the world and worldliness. A good church will have standards and convictions and won’t be afraid or ashamed to stand for them and preach them (II Corinthians 6:14-18; I John 2:15-17).
A congregational form of church government where each member is equal and the church is totally independent of any denominational hierarchy and compulsory outside control (Acts 2; 6:1-7; Acts 15).
Its only offices of ordination are bishops (pastors) and deacons (I Timothy 3), with leadership authority vested in the pastor (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:7,17) .
Only two ordinances: believer’s baptism and the Lord’s supper. (Acts 8:35-38; I Corinthians 11:23-28; Acts 2:41,42). These are totally symbolic and memorial in nature and in no way confer salvation. Infant baptism was unknown in the Bible.
Reaching a lost and dying world with the message of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
Majoring on the preaching of the Word of God (I Timothy 4:1-4).
Music which honored God and was distinct from the world’s music and beat (Ephesians 5:19).
In your search for a church you would be well advised to look for a church which incorporated all of these principles. Also, when looking for a church be sure to look for one which has unity and good leadership (a pastor, or pastors, with a shepherd heart). Look for a church with drive, determination and vision; a church that wants to reach out to others and is never satisfied with what it is doing, but that is always wanting to do more for God. Be sure also to pray much, asking God to help you as you look.