We all know people who seem to spend their entire Christian lives searching for the perfect church. While some believe these are nothing more than sincere and assertive folks diligently seeking God’s truth in a day of apostasy, others consider them to be mere church hoppers—Pharisaical legalists seeking refuge against anyone or anything that would challenge their presuppositions about God and the comforts of their “religion.”
Is it really that hard to find a church that glorifies God and makes genuine disciples? How do we really know what a healthy and well-balanced churches looks like? Further, of the myriad of churches to choose from in America today, how do we really determine which congregation is right for our family?
Jeff Appling is in his 29th year of pastorship over The Grove Church in Maysville, GA. He and his wife, Lisa, have been married 35 years, and have three children, one son in law, and two grandchildren. Jeff says that one of his greatest blessings is that all of his children are still on the team, and still love God.
How to Identify and Find a Healthy Church
When looking for a healthy and well-balanced church, you want to look for a few things. The most important thing you want to look for, however, is who the central personality is in that church. Often times, the church may make that into the pastor or a certain group of people, when the central person should be the Lord Jesus Christ. You’ll find Him as the preeminent figure within any healthy church. Other signs of a healthy church are that they are founded in sound doctrine, focus on biblical preaching, and preach on biblical theology.
Further, the focus of an individual church should not be on just the programs of that church. Programs are things that churches do. The church needs to be more concerned about who they are, rather than just what they do, and then do what they do out of who they are. We, as Christians, are Christ followers. We take up our cross and die daily, and have a mandate from God to follow and obey His Word. A church that is healthy will be a church that focuses its heart on the aforementioned biblical preaching and sound doctrine, and they should do what they do based on that, rather than just looking for things to do. The heart of the church should be on God’s Word and doing the work that He has called all of us to do.
When looking for a church, it’s common to wonder if you should choose based on the interest-level of your kids. As much as we may want our kids to be involved, the decision to attend or not attend needs to come from the parent. A child will actually be better off if a common-sensed, Holy Spirit-filled parent makes the decision of attendance.
Another common concern for parents is whether or not the youth group is entertaining to their kids. The thought, typically, is that if the kids enjoy the program, they will want to continue coming. Entertainment can be ok, but entertainment doesn’t keep the kids there. The reality is that children and teens have to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word in order to withstand what they face daily. Below the entertainment, should be a desire to put the Word of God into the hearts and lives of the youth group attendees. When kids see lives change, apart from the entertainment, that becomes so compelling that it encourages them to keep coming back.
- How to define a healthy and well-balanced church.
- How important are program offerings within a church?
- Should you choose a church based on more your kids than yourself?
- Some of the challenges Youth Pastors and Leaders face.
Picture provided by: Виталий Смолыгин, via Public Domain Files