Choosing a Local Church

What factors should be considered when choosing an evangelical local church anywhere in the world? The French language article Comment choisir une église explores this question from the perspective of a specific example in the Canadian city of Quebec.

Choosing a local church ? 2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Co 3.17, ESV)

The following is a distinct source of input that also may be useful in choosing a local church, borne in response to a post titled Your church on Christian Forums . com.  To that thread’s opening post’s questions “How did you choose the church you currently attend ?” and “What influences your decision making process?” My first response was published as post # 27 of Your Church, and quoted in Denominational Preferences.

As I visited the thread a few weeks later, I was prompted to provide further input about the view of the Bible held by any given local church one might consider joining. It can be read in its original context as post # 39 of Your Church, or in a slightly adapted form:

Hello everyone, 

I have just been reading through this thread from my own response, posted Dec 19, 2014, up to the post preceding this one, Jan 10, 2015, where examples are provided of what are considered irritants playing against the choice of a local congregation over another.

This leads me to propose some factors to be considered about the Nature of the Bible itself and the importance of taking these factors into account when choosing a Local Church.

Someone close to me tried to help me step out of the obscurantist views I was alleged to have about the Bible being God’s Word and the importance of interpreting it as it intends itself to be understood. Since that person got her information from the theological faculty of a prestigious local university, I chose to study those criticizing my position. 

My response to those criticisms that have to do with the Bible itself are going in two complementary directions: first, the reliability of Scriptures, second, the need to become thoroughly familiar with the text of the Bible, beginning from the New Testament, and seeing how Jesus and the apostles treated the old testament.

I will close this post by highlighting the need for personal commitment when one tries to choose a Christian local Churches to meet one’s needs for spiritual growth.

First Factor: Deciding about the Reliability of the Bible.

One of the things I found is that some authors have a tendency to use name-calling instead of dealing with facts, positions, perspectives, and interacting with those. I documented this in an essay titled «Comment donc comprendre la Bible aujourd’hui?» (How then are we to understand the Bible today?). After writing it (in French), I found some English language material that follow the same path, showing that there are valid reasons to take the Bible seriously, and to understand it as it tells us we should understand it.

You can find this French language essay and short English language video documents from the Knowing section, under What about the Bible?

Second factor: Familiarizing Oneself with the Bible Text.

I would suggest anyone with a bias against the validity of the Old Testament to begin reading the Bible by trying to understand the main message of the Gospel of John, asking, what would I have to change in my life is this were true, and if ever I concluded it were true, would I be willing to trust Christ with my views of life and with the way I conduct my personal and professional affairs? 

The entire New Testament should first be read with that sort of attitude, accompanied by an attitude of prayer that would go along the following lines: «God, Christianity as I understand it now turns me off. I believe it is off base. Please help me turn my eyes away from those who have led me to this unbelief, and help me understand Christianity from the teaching of its only true Chief, Jesus Christ Himself, and from those He mandated to represent Him, called apostles throughout the New Testament. Pray: God, I am willing to change my mind, my attitude, and my entire life, if I turn out to believe what they said». 

The Bible says it requires the Spirit of God to understand the truth of God, so ask God to lead you through His Spirit so you will gain some understanding that is now eluding you. 

Once you have gone through the New Testament at least once, and perhaps several times, with the basic attitudes I just mentioned, then I invite you to go back to the text, and see how Jesus and the apostles considered the statements made in the Old Testament. You will see that they took it as history and not as myth. Looking up the Old Testament passages quoted in the New Testament will help you understand better what it talks about.

Third Factor: Being Personally Committed.

Once you have found a Church that takes the Bible seriously and that at the same time shows respect to its members and visitors, then participate in it truly, and get involved in what it has to propose for your growth as a Christian. And don’t shun the commitment part that you will be invited towards as you understand what Christianity is truly about.

Some of the posts I read today seem to take a sight-seeing approach to Church evaluation. You can’t really know what is going on in a Church unless you truly get involved. So first impressions are important and must be taken into account. But one has to move further into his or her investigation before drawing conclusions, either about the Church’s teaching or community life.

God bless all the readers of this thread.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

You may communicate with me through the indications under Questions or Comments.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA.
February 8, 2018.