Church - Finding the Right Church

How do you know when it is time to look for a new local church?

What an important question in every person's life. Well, first of all, it's not time to look for a new church just because you got offended at something at the current church you go to. It's not time to look for a new church just because the pastor said something that you didn't agree with. It's not time to look for a new church just because somebody said something about the pastor or said something about the church that made you become a little suspicious. Alright? Because there's always going to be nay-sayers of any church that's successful and that's doing something for God.

The time to look for a new church is when the church is not teaching the Bible, not feeding you the Word of God. When the church is trying to manipulate you or control you or dominate you to try to get you do something that is contrary to the Word of God, or trying to tell you that you're going to hell if you're not in their church or that God's going to judge you if you leave their church. Things like that. When people try to say things that will control you, that's the time to leave a church and to look for a new one.

And what do you look for? You look for a church that's grounded in the Word of God, grounded in worship, grounded in loving people, grounded in faith, grounded in the Bible as the final authority in our lives, and is going to teach that uncompromisingly. We believe in three things in our church, for example, that God has called us to teach people uncompromisingly, to love people unconditionally, and to encourage people unceasingly. If you can find a church like that, then I would say that you're in the right church.

Church - Finding the Right Church

When do you know if it's time for you to move on to another church, particularly revolving around what God has called you to do?

That's a good question. I don't think it's the same for every situation. I think it really depends on a lot of factors. Number one, if that church is not teaching the Word of God, and I mean teaching the Bible; I don't mean teaching man's opinions and philosophies and the traditions of men, I mean teaching the Bible. If a church is not doing that, then it is time for you to move on. If the pastor falls into sin and doesn't repent and go through some sort of restoration process, then it's time for you to move on. It may be time for you to move on if the pastor sins and still goes through a restoration process.
But the point is, those are two examples when it is time for you to move on. When is it not time for you to move on? Well, you heard something that the pastor said and you didn't like it, it hurt your feelings, it offended you; that is not the reason to move on. You don't want to serve in the church and they're asking people to serve and you don't think you should have to do that; that is not the reason to move on. You don't like the way the ushers operate in the church, or you don't like the way this person does this or that person does that; that is not the right reason to leave a church.

The right reason to leave a church is when God is promoting you to something better and you have the blessing of that church to leave. Now if they are controlling you and manipulating you and telling you, "No, you're going to hell and you will be cursed if you leave this church." Then no, that is obviously wrong. What you need to realize and understand is that if God is promoting you to something and if you have the blessing and affirmation of your existing church, that is the best time to leave the church.

Church - Finding the Right Church

How do you feel about a Christian that doesn’t attend church on a regular basis or doesn’t have a church home? Sometimes it’s hard to get involved in a good church, to know what a good church actually is.

I know there are a lot of people who are in that situation that they don’t have a church home and they’re not going somewhere regularly. The way I feel about it isn’t quite as important as what God’s Word says about it. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 that we should not forsake the assembling together as is the habit of some but all the more as the day of Jesus’ returning approaches, we should be faithful to be at church.
Now, having said that, just because we’re at a church doesn’t mean that we’re at a good church, so it’s important that we’re in a good church that’s teaching the Word of God as the authority in our live. So, I think that sometimes people don’t go to church because they’re burned, maybe they were mistreated, maybe a situation was mishandled, maybe they feel they were controlled or manipulated in some way. There are a lot of reasons why people feel burned from church, but just because my mother burned the biscuits when I was a kid doesn’t mean I stopped eating. I went back and I found something else to eat. So, we got to make sure that we’re honoring the Word of God and not just doing what’s easy or convenient or withdrawing simply because we don’t like what somebody preaches.

Let’s talk about what a “good church” is for a minute. A good church is number one, a church that believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. Now there are a lot of churches that fall into that category, but as we go through a little bit of a list, we start narrowing the choices down. So the next thing that we should make sure that we find in a good church is that that church preaches and teaches the Bible as the final authority in our lives so they’re not just preaching their opinions or their feelings, but they’re teaching what they teach right from the Scripture, right from the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Thirdly, that that church is involved in mercy and believes in teaching people and encouraging them, not coming down on them with legalism and “you better do this or you’re not saved,” or “you better wear makeup or you’re not saved,” or “you better not wear not wear pants.” You know, all these rules that people put in order to be saved. If a church is preaching that, that’s not a good church. So, it’s got to be teaching the grace of God, that God is not judging us just because we fail, just because we make mistakes, just because we fall. And then that church needs to have an attitude of serving other people and that when somebody comes that we don’t treat them as a second-class citizen just because they haven’t been around or they don’t know as much or they haven’t learned their Bible very good.. We’ve got to be willing to help people right where they’re at.

And then another thing that marks a good church is that the Pastor is trying to teach people in a way that will protect them from things that would hurt them, protect them from wrong teaching by teaching them really easily and in an understandable way from the Bible in a gentle and kind way and that there is relationships that are offered. Maybe small groups are provided in that church. I’m just trying to give you a list of some of the things to look for in a good, healthy church.

Church - Finding the Right Church

What if you don’t have peace being in a particular church—does that mean I’m in rebellion?

Not necessarily. A person who’s in rebellion is somebody who, number one, they’re rebelling against what God said, or, number two, they don’t want to submit to godly authority. All right? So if there’s not rebellion in your heart towards the pastor and towards the authority of the church, then maybe God does have something else for you. And God does want you to go somewhere where you’re going to be fed or ministered to better.

You just have to realize that it’s not a feeling that you need to look for, but it is the assurance in your heart that, “Okay, I’m in the right place and I’m being fed.” The Bible says that “My sheep hear my voice”—in John 10—“and they know my voice and they follow me.” So you’re going to know the voice of God.

No, it’s not rebellion if you’re not in the right church. You’ve got to find the right church. If you go from church to church and you never get plugged in and you never get committed, then, yes, I would say there is probably rebellion in your life. But if you’re just not in the right church, and you’re looking for the right one, then by all means you should maybe go on a Wednesday night.

Keep going to the church you’re going to. It’s like a job. I encourage people, “don’t leave your job until you have another one.” Don’t leave your church because you feel like the Lord’s leading you somewhere else. Until you know, until you’ve plugged into that other place and you’re being fed and you’ve tested it and you know that it’s right, stay in the church you’re going to on Sunday. Maybe on Wednesday, go to visit some other churches and see if something else is the place for you, and if it is, kindly and gracefully talk to your pastor or the leaders of your church and let them know you feel like it’s time for you to move on, but it’s nothing against them whatsoever.