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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?

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I work as an engineer.  I think I am pretty good at what I do for a living but it is just that; what I do for a living.  It is not something that I am necessarily passionate about.  It is what I do in order to fulfill my biblical responsibility to work and provide for my family.  There are other things such as various ministries in which I am involved that are really my passion.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard statements similar to the following from Christians.

“I am an accountant but my real passion is apologetics.”

“I work as a salesman in order to make money but what I really enjoy is the work I do at church.”

“I am an engineer by profession but my passion is preaching the Word.”

Have you heard this from many people?  I hear it frequently in the circles in which I am involved.  I am left with the question, “Are we supposed to enjoy our jobs or are we called to endure whatever it is we need to do in order to bring home a salary?”  Is it wrong to wish I was doing some other kind of work related to ministry?  I know the Bible tells us that we should be content in our situation.  Does this mean that it is wrong to desire to be doing something else more fulfilling or even some sort of full time ministry?  I have been thinking about this and do not have the answer quite yet but for now this is what I think.

1. Work is a blessing from the Lord.  It was something that was given to Adam and Even before the fall and is therefore a gift and a blessing.  We can do work to provide for our families while at the same time enjoying the work.  I believe that God even intends the work to benefit us and even society as a whole, especially if your job provides employment opportunities for others.

2. Work became less enjoyable after the fall.  I don’t think I need to cite verses about the curse on humanity after Adam and Eve sinned.  I believe that after the curse, work became less enjoyable and became hard.  By God’s grace some people can still do things they enjoy for the job but I don’t think that this is the norm to be expected.  For those of us who long to be involved in ministry on a full time basis we long for the new heaven and new earth but until then we are called to labor in secular work as well as in ministry.  The grass is not greener on the other side although we think it might be.  We are where God want us for now.

3. For those of us who want to be involved in full time ministry and are stuck in secular careers, we need to understand that there is not enough money to go around.  The economic times are tough.  God can use us as lay people in ministry while we keep our secular professions.  This allows us to have some income that is not dependent on the generous giving of other Christians.  It frees up money for the kingdom and it also allows us to not be beholden to those who give.  In other words, you can spend your ministry time and effort as you want and you are not accountable for what ministry you want to devote your energy to.  You also don’t have to worry about people withholding funds from you because of a controversial stand against something like homosexuality.  You have income and it is based on your work, not on what you teach.

This is where I am for now.  I am an engineer who loves to excogitate.  I would rather be out there teaching or reaching or defending the faith.  But wait, I am doing that.  I am just not doing it on a professional basis and I have an engineering job that pays my bills.

Just to add another comment.  By having a non-ministry job, we are able to come into contact with lost people and people who need to be confronted with the gospel on a daily basis.  If you were a ministry professional you would be in a Christian bubble and would only have limited access to lostness.  But as a member of the secular workforce we have ready-made relationships that are in place.  All we need to do is use those in order to share the message of hope we have within us.

What say you?

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