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Whether you move to a new community or your church decides to shut its doors, you may find yourself looking for a new church home at some point.  When you are looking for a church, what do you consider the most important issues or reasons in selecting a particular church.  As I consider this, these are what I consider the most important issues in the selection process of a new church home.

1. Agree on primary theological issues. The first and most important characteristic needs to be that we agree on the primary theological issues. That is, they must have a biblical understanding of the gospel. This is a non-negotiable point. They must understand the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ’s work on the cross. They must agree that one’s salvation is by grace and grace alone. Salvation is a work completely of God and He doesn’t need our help. You must only repent. The church must agree with the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture. We may not always agree on how to interpret Scripture but we must at least agree that the Bible alone is the rule for all that we do.

2. Credobaptism. Any church that I join must practice believer’s baptism. I will not join a church that does not practice baptism by immersion. Sprinkling is not baptism. Baptism is, by definition, dipping someone under water. Baptism must be reserved for believers who have demonstrated a credible evidence of regeneration and who want to join the church and become part of the community of believers. They cannot baptize infants. They must baptize only believers.

3. Ministry to all ages. I need the church to minister to all ages, at least the ages of the people in my family. Since I have youth aged children, I need it to be a place where my youth aged children can live in community with other youth. I need it to be a community of believers where adults speak truth into children’s lives and show them what it means to live as an intentional disciple of Christ. I need the church to be intentional about preparing the youth biblically for a world that is hostile to Christian ideas. I don’t need it to be about parties, concerts, and amusement parks. I need it to be intentional and gospel driven. I need to it to be a church that understands the parents’ role in the youth’s lives but will alongside the parents in discipleship.

4. Expository Preaching. I believe that a church needs a steady diet of expository preaching. It is okay to depart from it on occasion but in general, expository preaching needs to be the practice of the preacher. It helps in preaching the full counsel of God and not just focusing on the favorite texts of the pastor. It also allows the text to drive the message rather than using a Bible verse for a launching pad to say whatever they want.

5. Welcomes workers. I hope that my next church would be open to having new people serve and minister in the area of their gifting. There are areas in which we could contribute to the ministry of the church but I need the church to be open to having new people get involved. I don’t want to be a part of the church that always goes to the same people to step in and minister.

6. Missions. I would hope that the church would have a biblical understanding of missions. But, if they don’t, it needs to be a church where the pastor is leading them to give financially to support missions. It should be a significant part of the budget, prayer, and preaching.  It should be a climate conducive to the church growing in this area.

7. Love in spirit and practice. Does the church have a sense of unity in spirit? Do they love on one another? Are they welcoming to visitors?

The answer to these should be a resounding “yes!” These are really the minimum of what I think should characterize a church that I join. There are several other traits that I think are important but are not must-haves such as high expectations and accountable church membership.  However, if the church is getting a steady diet of expository preaching, these other issues will eventually fall into place.

What are your thoughts?  What do you look for in a church?

Of course I do not believe this and do not think it is true.  But, if you hold to the Darwinian Evolutionary model of common descent then this view is inescapable.  When looking at the DNA of a chimpanzee, it is much more similar to a female human than a male human.  The most radical difference in the DNA between chimps and humans are found in the Y chromosomes–which only males have.  I reject the view of common descent and therefore reject the idea that women are more similar to chimps than men.  To read more about this, check out this link.  This is just one example of a crazy conclusion that Darwinian Evolution will lead you to.

I am not a prolific reader.  In fact, as a child I really did not like to read unless it was a comic.  Every once in a while I’d run into a book that I found interesting.  It was quite rare for this to happen.  One such book that I really enjoyed reading was Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps.  I must say that the story was compelling and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact, it was one of the very rare occasions that I read a book in one sitting.  This was truly unusual for me so it speaks volumes of the book.

However, for a book to be interesting does not really make it a good book.  For a book to have a good story line does not make it a good book.  I was recently reflecting on this book because my son was given a copy and the more I excogitate on the message of the book, the more I think the message of it is dangerous.  Hopefully, you have read the book but if you haven’t you can read a synopsis of the plot here.  Basically, the story boils down to a pastor challenging his congregation to ask the question, “what would Jesus do?” about every decision they make.  It is a story about how this impacts so many people’s lives and business decisions.  The result of people asking this question is fantastic and they reap great rewards from following in their decision making.

“What is wrong with that?” you might ask. “Don’t you remember the WWJD bracelets that were so popular?” you may be thinking.  Yes, I do.  The problem is not in asking the question.  The problem is in the implications that flow out of the asking of the question.  Here is why I think the theology taught by this book is so dangerous.

First, by asking the WWJD question we are implying to ourselves that we can do what Jesus would do.  By asking the question WWJD we seem to be forgetting what the good news of the gospel is all about.  We cannot do what Jesus would do.  In fact it took Jesus coming to earth taking on human flesh to do for us the very thing that we cannot do on our own strength.  The question should not be “what would Jesus do?” but “what has Jesus done?”  We cannot begin to do what Jesus did.  Jesus did it so we wouldn’t have to and because we couldn’t even if we wanted to.

Second, by asking the WWJD question I think we are unconsciously saying that by doing what Jesus would do we can be good moral people.  While being good and moral is good for society, we are not called as Christians to be good and moral.  If we speak to ourselves in this way we will be believing in a works based salvation because we are driven by doing good and being right. May it never be.  We must cast ourselves on Christ because we cannot be good and do good.  We should abide in Christ and continually confess our sins to Him knowing that even our best choices are stained by sin.  We are not good people and asking the WWJD question reinforces to us that we are good by making Christlike choices.

Third, it dangerously leans in the direction of the prosperity gospel.  It has been a while since I read it but what I got from it was that God will bless you for your obedience.  While this is true, it is not true in the material sense.  God will not necessarily bless me materially if I honor him.  In fact, it may cost me my job, my family, or even my very life.  I could be off base on this but these are my thoughts as I reflect on something I read years ago.

Let us forsake this question, “What would Jesus do?”  Let us acknowledge that even when we ask ourselves that question and do what we think Jesus would do that our choices are still stained by sinful motivations.  Let us acknowledge that we could never do what Jesus did.  Let us ask the question “What did Jesus do?” and remind ourselves of the finished work of Christ on the cross.  It is only through what Jesus already did that we can bear his name and call ourselves Christians.  Let us not communicate to the society around us that we could ever be good enough for God.  We are sinners who are totally and utterly unable to be good in the sight of God without what Jesus did.

So, if you read this book please read with caution.  It is a nice story.  But read with caution for the underlying theological message can be dangerous.

Some people claim that Christians must have blind faith in the Bible. I agree with what the Bible says but I don’t know that I would call the faith or trust that I have in its veracity is blind. I think that my faith is reasonable. Without going into a long explanation as to why it is reasonable let me just say that everything I have read and learned from the Bible has been true. Therefore, I have no reason to question the portions that I have yet to verify or validate. I would say that the Bible is the rule of faith and is the benchmark of all truth. I approach life in this way. Scripture is right and where others disagree they are in error.

Others approach truth differently. Those with a materialist or naturalistic worldview place science as their locus of truth and anything that cannot be empirically verified is regarded as false. Now, this worldview has many problems but in the world of academia this is where you must start with people understanding that most people today in America come from this perspective.

I do not believe in evolution. I am with Ronald Reagan who said it was just a theory. It is not a bad theory. In some ways it makes sense but I reject the Neo-Darwinian theory of general common descent because it flies in the face of the Bible which, as I already mentioned, is my measure of truth. However, not everyone comes from that perspective so I think that I also need to evaluate evolution as a theory from a scientific perspective as well. This is why I would like to share with you some scientific insights into evolution with you. This particular insight comes from Dr. Cornelius Hunter who has a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Hunter demonstrates how unlikely or probabilistically impossible it would be for evolution to be true based on protein-protein interactions which are fundamental to life. He describes how difficult it is to get two proteins to interact with each other not to mention the fact that the correct amino acid would have to be used to get the interaction to have a meaningful result. Here is what he says about evolution and the random chance that such a “mutation” could occur:

But evolution does not have such resources. It cannot conduct millions of evolutionary experiments in order to luckily find amino acid sequences on protein surfaces that are required for important biological functions. And even if it could, that would only be the first step, because molecular machines are often comprised of multiple proteins, interacting with each other at multiple sites. So evolution would have to luckily find several sequences, in multiple proteins, and get them to arise in similar time frames, so the molecular machine would function.

I am an engineer, not a scientist. But this scientist has skillfully pointed out how such a basic but amazing building block of life on its own makes evolution almost certainly false. We are talking probabilities here which doesn’t prove or disprove anything but it does make evolution very unlikely and makes you wonder why the scientific community so readily and blindly accepts it. To read more from Dr. Hunter read his blog here. To read more about these protein-protein interactions pick up a copy of The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe and study chapter 7.

You may have recently read that the teaching of creationism is now banned in any school that receives government funding in Great Britain.  It is interesting that the government there has taken a very narrow view of the theories of the origin of life.  They seem to think that any idea that is not evolution is creationism.  This is a very narrow view and misrepresents evolution and creationism.  They make it sounds like evolution is the only scientific view and if you accept creationism you reject science and reason.  Cornelius Hunter has pointed out that this is just a straw man.  They misrepresent anyone who questions evolution and dismiss them as an anti-science creationists.  Creationism is not anti-science, by the way, and is distinct from another theory known as intelligent design.  This is just a way that they blackball their opponents because their view is weak and doesn’t stand up to scientific investigation.  To read more about this visit Dr. Hunter’s blog here.

If you are in the Orange County, California, area and have any youth aged people in your life this is something you don’t want to miss out on.  It is called Rethink Apologetics and it is on September 26-27 at Crossline Community Church.  Follow this link to get more information or to register.  RETHINK APOLOGETICS

It looks like a great conference that you don’t want to miss.  We need to teach the young people in our churches to defend their faith and to decide what they believe and why.  It looks like this will be a great way to help equip them.

The United States is home to some of the greatest universities but in many of them academic freedom is severely limited.  I am speaking of their willingness to have professors and instructors teach anything besides Darwinian Evolution.  I was recently reminded of this fact when I came across this sad article.  In California, a group was forced to cancel an event because they were showing a film on Intelligent Design.  In January, the University of Kentucky settled a lawsuit for refusing to hire an astronomer because he was skeptical toward evolution.  The crazy thing about this case was that the astronomer is an evolutionist but the university refused to hire him because he was skeptical about it.  Are our universities really this intolerant?  Are universities not supposed to be a place where a variety of ideas can be discussed or does everyone have to be evolutionists in order to be included in the world of academia.  Read the article on lack of academic freedom here.

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