Teaching the Bible, God’s Word—Not Someone Else’s
2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV) For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Essential to the function of a church is its exhortation from and study of God’s word, the Bible. Going to a church that preaches its soapbox will detract from God’s message and ultimately His glory. Also, be careful of the church that consistently uses scripture out of context to make its point.
Evangelism, Spreading the Gospel, Missionary Work, Mercy
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The primary means by which the salvation and glory of Jesus find their way into broken and needy hearts is through evangelism. While the complete work of salvation in an individual’s heart is done by the Holy Spirit, the church should be intentional in its work of sharing Jesus Christ and making His life and love known.
Small Groups, Life Groups, Connecting, Community
Acts 2:42 (NIV) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The church that meets weekly all together in one place but does not meet in smaller groups throughout the week misses out on building deep community. While the unified, large-group setting has its place, the smaller, more personal meetings often offer additional opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment. It is there that the things of life are experienced together. Look for the basics of the church to be alive in smaller gatherings as well: worship, instruction, fellowship, and evangelism.
Prayer and Worship
James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
John 4:23-24 (NIV) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Find a church that prays and worships God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a fundamental sense, we exist for the glory, honor, and pleasure of God. In prayer, we talk with God and find out what he is doing in and around us; in worship, we focus our attention on the Lord, doing what he has asked us to do. Be sure that the church is engaged in these practices.
Remember that no church is perfect, and even if there were a perfect church, it would be imperfect just as soon as you stepped in the door. So, don’t forget to exercise grace and understanding when checking out a church.