Which Church?
Pointers on Choosing a Church

There was a time not so long ago when the name on the church building was a good indicator as to what kind of church it was.

     However, today it is common to find churches in the same denomination that are drastically different.  There are also many independent churches, the names of which have no stereotype in the minds of many.  The person seeking a church family to be a part of today must be informed and inquisitive. We live in a time where the issues of Christianity and religion have become so confused by the media and educational systems that it can seem nearly impossible to understand what real Christianity is.  Many observe the scandals, conflicts and contradictions and simply give up on trying to understand. 
 This brochure offers some basic information to help the sincere seeker  choose a church that is genuinely  Christianity. 

     Below are several questions you can ask or investigate that will assist you in finding a genuine Christian Church. 

Is the Group Historically Christian?
     Though many historically Christian churches have departed from sound Christian belief, some groups who name the name of Christ have never been considered orthodox.  There are generally two primary issues that identify these. 
1.  The deity of Jesus Christ. 
     Basic Christianity teaches that Jesus is the eternal God who humbled Himself as a man and paid the price for man's sin.  Some groups will admit that Jesus is God, but when questioned carefully, they believe that He is a created god, a lesser god instead of the eternal God.   One such group as this is the Jehovah's Witness. 

2.  Divine authorship of the Bible. 
     Another basic tenant of Christianity is that the Bible is the only piece of literature that carries the stamp of divine authorship.  Though genuine Christians may interpret various secondary issues in the Bible differently, all genuine Christians believe that the Bible is the only authoritative Word of God.   Some pseudo-Christian groups will say that the Bible is the Word of God but also have other "holy" books that they regard as divine scripture.  This is an open door to error.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, both the regular and the reorganized, is a primary example. 
 There are several good reference books that are widely accepted among Christians which identify groups that have departed from orthodox Christianity. 

Is the Group Pluralistic? 
    Pluralism is the idea that salvation can be obtained in other ways besides through Jesus Christ/Christianity.  By definition, to be a Christian is to believe that Jesus is the only way.   No one else has ever done or said the things Jesus said.   Jesus made statements that are so clear that he must be exactly who He said he is, God in the flesh, or He must be a lunatic.  His virgin birth, His declarative statements, the miracles He performed, His exact fulfillment of prophecies written hundreds of years before, His bodily resurrection, and His current ministry through true believers sets Him apart from any other who claims to be a christ or a messiah.   Christian doctrine is clear: there is no other name, except the name of Jesus whereby we can be saved (Acts 4:12).  Therefore, true Christians cannot be pluralistic.  Jesus Himself has not left that option open.  Faith in Jesus and Jesus alone is the only way to be saved.   This is not because God is narrow minded, though He does tell us the way is straight and the path is narrow that leads to life.  Its just that  the problem Jesus came to fix is so big that He is the only one who can fix it! 

Is the Group Dogmatic or Controlling?
     Also beware of groups who claim to be the only true church or to have the "corner" on correct interpretation of scripture.   Such churches are often very controlling over their members.  Genuine Christians may differ in their interpretations of certain scriptures and even have heated debates, but all genuine Christians recognize all  who hold to the primary teachings of the Bible about Christ as fellow Christians (see the section "What Christian's Believe about Jesus Christ" on this brochure).  God has designed us to work together and membership and commitment to a church should be taken very seriously.  Though you should be challenged to strong commitment and participation, a group which manipulates you and does not honor your ability to be led by the Holy Spirit is in dangerous territory. A good church will offer counsel and advice, but will also honor your decisions to choose the place where God is leading you to be a member. 

Does the Group Promote Morality?
    God is clear on this issue. 

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    Sadly, there are many congregations who are historically Christian, but have departed from truth by condoning immoral behavior such as homosexuality, fornication, and other sins as acceptable behavior.  Christians may stumble or even fall.  But to practice and/or condone evil and call it good is denial and deception.  Christians must love sinners, be kind, and lead them to repentance, but never love or condone their sin.  God's grace certainly includes forgiveness, but it also includes the power to holy lives free from bondage to sin. 

What Christians Believe About Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the Eternal God in the flesh having no beginning or end of days. 
Jesus Christ's entered this world in the flesh by the virgin birth. 
Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. 
Jesus Christ laid down His life and died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. 
Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead. 
Salvation and eternal life only comes by grace though faith in the sacrifice of Jesus' Blood. 
Jesus Christ is alive today working with and through those who know Him. 
Jesus Christ will return again in bodily form to establish His Kingdom on earth and judge unrighteousness. 

I hope this inforation has been helpful.  But the most important thing you can do to choose the right church is PRAY.  Don't attend the church of your choice, but His.

© copyright 1999
Brad Sherman
Purpose Ministries