See also: http://www.gty.org/resources/Questions/QA121
See also: The Masters Seminary Graduates and Location by State.
How to Find a Good Church
Looking for a good church? Finding a good church can be a long and painful process. In order to save you time and heartache, call each church first and gently ask the Pastor to give you answers to the following questions. (either over the phone or by email). If the Pastor can not be reached, then move on to the next prospect. Yes, there can be some movement on some of the non-essentials. However, this will get you started in a good direction.
1. What is man’s biggest problem, sin or self-esteem? Seeker sensitive and felt-needs churches focus on man’s hurts and problems. The Bible says that man’s biggest problem is sin.
2. What must a man do to inherit eternal life? Repent and trust is the Biblical answer. (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21). If the word “repent” is never used, say, “Thank you.” Then move on.
3. How do you deliver the salvation message? Ask the pastor to describe specifically what he says. Does he encourage people to simply say a prayer? Does he tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts?
The salvation message should include: God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, God’s response (hell), God’s kindness (Jesus on a cross), man’s response (repentance and faith in Christ).
4. How hard is it to become a Christian? The “formula” is simple, doing it is not. It is not easy to believe.
5. How often do you talk about sin, righteousness and judgment? Balance is key. This should not be the only emphasis, but it should be a regular emphasis.
6. How seeker sensitive is your church? It is o.k. for a church to be “seeker aware” but seeker sensitive means that they lean toward seekers and not the saved. (primarily, church is for the Saints/Christians).
7. Who do you do church for, seekers or members? “Both” is not acceptable. Church should be done for members and the unsaved are welcome to attend.
8. Do you dumb down your sermons? If he says yes, he is probably not trying to wean his members from milk to meat. Answers like, “We try to make our sermons accessible to everyone” are sermons that are not meaty.
9. What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching? Topical preaching is fine, but if a pastor never or rarely preaches (verse by verse), then you are going to be learning from the pastor and not God’s Word.
10. Do your sermons emphasize theology or are they just relevant? Everyone should say their sermons are relevant, what you are looking for is if they teach theology.
11. Describe your youth programs. If fun and games is the major (and usually first) emphasis, you have a youth program that is trying to compete with MTV.
12. Describe your evangelism programs. Don’t just accept, “We have an evangelism committee.” Dig. Are they serious about saving souls?
13. What church growth model do you follow? Hopefully they don’t have one. Churches should be reaching out to the lost, but churches that are plugged into new church growth models tend to follow man’s modern ideas rather than the Bible.
14. How much do you give to missions and the hungry? Again, this reveals the heart of the church. While most churches give to missions, many never consider the poor.
15. Do you believe the Bible contains no errors or contradictions? No equivocation allowed here.
16. Do you believe in a literal 6 day creation? Jesus did (Matt. 19:4).
17. Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment? Jesus did
18. When you distribute the Lord’s Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine yourself? Paul did (1Cor. 11:27-32).
19. Can a person who is living in a persistent lifestyle of sin inherit eternal life? Sinners can certainly be forgiven, but practicing sinners cannot inherit eternal life (1 John 3:8,9).
20. Does your church exercise church discipline? Paul said we should
(1 Cor. 5).
21. What are the essentials of the faith? Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, on the third day Jesus rose from the grave.
22. Do you have a cross in your sanctuary? Many remove it because they fear it will turn off seekers. They should glory in the Cross.