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How To Find The Right Church
This week on the Straight Truth podcast we listen in as Dr. Richard Caldwell and host, Dr. Josh Philpot talk about the Christian’s responsibility in choosing, settling in and remaining in fellowship with a local body of Christ. Dr. Caldwell begins by saying that the question exhibits a mindfulness by the questioner that every church is not the same, and this encourages him. He says it is good for us to understand and know that just because a building or congregation have "church" in its name or on its sign, doesn’t make it a New Testament church.
The church is a community of redeemed people, who have identified themselves with Christ, through baptism and have covenanted together to carry out the great commission (the local church is representative of the universal church). So the only way to answer this question is with Scripture. We want to go to the Word of God and ask, what should a church look like, what should a church be characterized by? What makes for a good church, what marks it as healthy and faithful?
Dr. Caldwell says that in reading through the New Testament what we won’t find is a pristine church, there is no such thing. Every church is going to have struggles and problems because where the truth is, the enemy is also at work. Within every church eventually, there is going to be tares intermixed with the wheat. You are going to find people on the role of the local church who are not on the role of heaven, so there will be problems.
We can Look for Guidance
If we look at 1 Timothy 3:14-15 we can see an example from Scripture where we can look for guidance on how one ought to behave in the household of God. This passage clarifies for us that we don’t have a right to make the church what we want it to be, but that we have a responsibility to live out church life in the way that God has defined it in the Scriptures. God’s Word, The Truth, is what the church is to be about, it must be preeminent and have the place of priority. How a church handles the Word of God will be displayed in all the life of that church. This will show up in its preaching and teaching, but also in areas like church discipline; which shows goals towards holiness and biblical faithfulness.
Dr. Philpot asks what role then, should personal preferences take on when choosing a church. Dr. Caldwell responds by affirming that we all have them and that they aren’t all bad. But what often happens is they cause us difficulties when we place them as priorities over the place of the Word of God. Our preferences might be in denominations, styles of worship, in music, songs, and teaching and preaching, in fellowship, the size of the church, etc.
Is The Word of God Handled Faithfully?
But what should have first place, above and before all of these, is the Word of God. Is it handled faithfully, is it preeminent, is it given the place of and accepted as the Authority for the church, for God’s people? This will determine the health of the church in all the other areas. Dr. Caldwell then gives us some examples of how we apply this approach as we consider our preferences when visiting a church or churches as is often the case.
This leads the discussion to consider what “church shopping” or “church dating” in our culture looks like. Dr. Philpot asks, how many times should one visit a church or churches to find the one that fits us. Dr. Caldwell replies that it is okay and appropriate to search until you find a church that is healthy and faithful to God’s Word. However, he also says that we can’t let the other things (preferences) get in the way of committing ourselves to the life of a local fellowship.
When we continue to visit endlessly we become disconnected. When we find a healthy church, we want to plant ourselves and get connected to being a part of and growing with that congregation. He reminds us again that we will not find a perfect church where we face no challenges, no disappointments or where there are things that we won’t have to endure through.
Sometimes, You Should Leave Your Church
Having said all this, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when we need to leave or should leave a church. A move to a different city, state or country even, will facilitate a leaving. We might find that a church is becoming consistently unfaithful to the Word of God, and it becomes clear that they aren’t going to be faithful to honor the Scriptures; that would be a good reason for leaving. Other issues that might come up are major sin issues and scandalous issues that the church just refuses to address. But, we don’t want to be quick to leave a church, we need to be prayerful, consulting with the elders and pastors when we have concerns and see issues that we think are unbiblical.
We are to love the church because Christ loves the church and we are to see the church through the eyes of Christ. It is not yet what it is going to be; it will not be perfected on this side of heaven. Remembering this will help us to be faithful and faithful church members. We need to have biblical perspectives, biblical expectations, and biblical faithfulness, while at times patiently enduring.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
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