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What Makes a Good Church?

Updated on December 26, 2011

Church shopping

It seems that most people decide on a church to attend and join the same way they shop for a car or a home. The primary consideration is "What do I like?" or "What makes me comfortable?" or "What advances my goals?" And many a church panders to this incllnation. The mission of the church becomes to assemble a mix of spiritual, intellectual and social experiences that will attract the most people. Consumerism at its best! The problem with this approach is that it totally misses God's intention for the church.

How does God define the church?

God looks at the church from three points of view.

1. He sees the church in its final glory. Some call this the invisible church; invisible to us, not to God. It's that vast assemblage of people whom God has called to be his own; who one day will gather in the new heavens and the new earth to worship and serve God free of sin and its consequences.

2. God also recognizes all who at any point in time professed faith in Jesus Christ as the visible church today. From this point of view, the church is all those who have expressed outwardly their inward heart allegiance to Christ. They humbly confess their sin, gratefully embrace Christ as their Redeemer and zealously serve Him as their Lord. In this way the church becomes visible to the world.

3. Thirdly, there's the church at work. God has entrusted to his people an array of tasks. We are to worship him, proclaim the gospel to those who are yet to believe, encourage faithfulness among those who believe and bring comfort to those who are struggling. That's just a few of the items with which God's people are tasked. The moment two or more believers attempt to serve God together, you have the organized church.

So how would you choose a church?

First, hang around a particular church long enough to get to know both its teachings and its people. Does what comes from the pulpit expound God's Word fairly and understandably? Do the people (especially the leadership) demonstrate over time a humble desire to practice what is taught? You want to find an atmosphere that understands your weaknesses, encourages your growth, stimulates you honest investigation of truth and invites you to walk closely with Savior.

Secondly, notice how the people organize themselves to accomplish their mission. This is where many Christians betray a lack of humility. Is the organization simply a self-serving maintenance operation? Or is it geared toward extending mercy outward? Is there a clear pathway for you to follow into service? Or must you be a card-carrying whatever before your gifts and energies will be used?

No denomination?

Yep! you noticed that? I didn't mention or recommend any label. Wherever Christ is exalted in word and life you have a true church. I was raised and ministered as a Presbyterian, went to a Lutheran grade school and, later, a Baptist boarding school, lived for a while with Christian and Missionary Alliance people, worked with Pentecostals in Uganda and currently worship at a Brethren congregation. Christ was exalted in all. On the other hand, you can find churches that wear these labels where Christ takes a back seat to social agendas and pet projects and consumerism.

Comments - I'm listening!

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    • Ammons1 profile image

      Mary Ammons 4 years ago from Tennessee

      I enjoyed the statement about no denomination. Today the Lord allowed me to publish a hub titled, The Little White Church House. I think that you may find it interesting regarding the guest speaker. As well as the subtitle , The name on the door.

      Be Blessed Ammons1

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, dellea, for stopping by. Thanks also for your hub "Don't be a Narcissis" though I think it's against the rules to post links to one's own hub in response to another's. At leat that what I was told when I attempted to so.

      D0 think I'm encouraging foks to judge in a manner forbidden by Scripture? I certainly hope not. Exercising biblically informed discernment is our reponsibility, while judging others in the sense of writing them off over their opinions would certainly displease our Lord.

    • profile image

      dellea 4 years ago

      I think many of you have made good points on selecting a church, also read

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      There are oodles of examples in Scripture of organization. Moses twice organized his leadership duties, first at the suggestion of Jethro, his father in law and later at God's command. Nehemiah had to organize his people to both build the wall and guard against enemies. Each person knew what section of the wall was his. That required communication. Jesus sent out his disciples two by two. Anytime two or more people attempt to cooperate to accomplish a task, organization is required. That's why God distributed different gifts to his people, so that each would have a particular part to contribute to the whole.

      Regarding membership Acts tells us that 3000 people were added to the church. Sounds like some one counted. Of course anything can be overorganized and played for the personal benefit of whoever's doing it. Godly people will try to avoid that.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 5 years ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      L^S Please give me scriptural support for

      " shows how God's people need to organize to accomplish the task we've received from our Lord. Organization requires some form a membership." there is no such scripture.

      sorry you have the concept of the american church pastor which is unscriptural. see Timothy for correct structure

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      celafoe You're right in one sense of the word church and wrong in another. Point #2 in the hub makes your point. However point #3 shows how God's people need to organize to accomplish the task we've received from our Lord. Organization requires some form a membership.

    • celafoe profile image

      charlie 5 years ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      Christians do not join a church, if a person is born again then they ARE THE CHURCH. any "church" (misnomer)that has a membership roll does not understand Christianity and is building their kingdom and not the KINGDOM OF GOD.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      How to pick a church? If you genuinely feel good after attending a service or two AND look forward to attending again. If the minister and/or the congregation gives you a "funny feeling" and not in a good way, keep looking!

      Liftandsoar, I'm not a member of any organized religion, but you are to be congratulated for having explored and experienced so many different denominations. ;D

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 6 years ago from among the called out ones of the ekklesia of Christ

      The big question I would ask is what is the vision or mandate of the church. Also, are the leaders implementing the vision.

      Without a vision that encourages positive *action* in others, the carnal and the mundane will take precedence over obedience to God's calling.

      Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.

      Proverbs 29:18a

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 6 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and bneautiful. I'm now your fan! I am working a series of 5 novels, “Seeds from Heaven” that touches on a lot of the things you mention. One might ask, “What would the Messiah’s message be today if he traveled the Earth during our time?” Book one is now published, “Lean against the Wind.”

      Based upon this HUB, you might enjoy

    • profile image

      Brenda 6 years ago

      I would add that an effective church would practice true humility

    • profile image

      Jan Caldwell 6 years ago

      What makes a good church? Genuinely real, caring people, whose actions speak louder than words.