You Belong in this Family!
The moment you are saved you are welcomed into the family of God. This promise is given in the Bible, “To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12). This family is called the Church.
The Church is so much more than the four walls and roof of a building. The Church is every believer, young and old, all across the world who have called out to God and asked to be saved. In fact, the Church is a chosen people, God’s very own possession.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God.” 1 Peter 2:9-10
So you belong to the broader idea of the church, but how do you go about finding a local church in your community? Here are some tips:
Finding a Local Church
So how do you get connected to this family? As a Christian, you are automatically part of God’s large family called the Universal Church, but God also has a smaller family for you to be a part of called a local church. A local church is simply a group of believers in Jesus who have committed to support each other and follow Jesus together. God knows you need the guidance of a pastor, the care of other Christians, and the safety and support of a good church home to help you grow as a Christian.
We have talked about church being like a family. It is important to understand that no church is perfect, just like no family is perfect. In fact, it is best to think of the local church as a hospital. It is full of broken people who are forming a community of believers while finding hope and healing from the Lord. So, how do you find the right one?
These questions might help guide your search:
What Makes a Good Church?
1. Does the church believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved?
Jesus himself tells us that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Some churches teach that faith in Jesus is not enough, but rather that there are extra things that need to be done to be saved. This is not what God intended. We can never do enough, on our own to be saved. The salvation message presented should be that the only way to God is through believing in His son Jesus, that he came to earth to die for the sins of mankind and that he also rose again the third day. Death, burial and resurrection. Salvation through grace by faith alone.
2. Does the church believe that the Bible is 100% true and teach from the entire Bible?
Some churches only believe that certain parts of the Bible are true, while others reject the Bible altogether in favor of the writings of their church founder. This should be seen as a warning.
You will want to find a church that respects the Bible as God’s complete Word. Keep in mind that all scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. (2 Timothy 3:16). It is essential that, in addition to the message of salvation, the church teaches about how you are to grow in the Lord and applies the Bible to our daily life. Look at the information on the church’s website and see if they offer small group Bible studies. Also many church’s post the pastor’s sermons on their website. You may want to listen to a few.
3. Is the church active in the community?
Do they reach out to the community to be the hands and feet of Jesus and serve those in need? Does the church tell others about Jesus? If not, then it is not following one of Jesus’ direct commandments. Jesus tell us to go out into our communities and tell them about God. We should all want to share what God has done for us, and we need to find a church that does the same. “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.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)
4. Does the church also have times of fellowship for its members planned?
You want to be part of a church that has ways for you to get involved for your own personal growth and encouragement and that provides an opportunity to serve the Lord.
5. What are the Foundational Beliefs of the Church?
Just as you would want the home that you live in to have a solid foundation to support the structure so that your family is safe, a church also needs a solid foundation as well. Here are important foundations.
- Belief in the Trinity. God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit
- God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth
- God the Son
- God the Holy Spirit
- Baptism (infant or adult) is taught as representation of your salvation. Baptism does not add to your salvation, it does not save you. It is a showing to others that you have accepted Christ into your heart and life and that you want to follow him in your life from this day forward.
- Communion or The Lord’s Supper is practiced. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Jesus told his disciples this during his last supper before he died:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28
Ask God for Guidance
As you start your search for a church, ask God for guidance. God desires for you to be in a church that will help you grow in your faith, be encouraged by other Christians, and serve Him. As you pray to God for direction in this process, trust that He will direct you to exactly where He wants you to be.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.