Open up the yellow pages of any community and you will find pages of churches. How do I select one? Well, for a repair man, you might just pick the one where your finger lands or the one closest to your home. However, this is not the best way for selecting a church. The best way is to visit area churches. Listen to what your neighbors and friends suggest. If your invited, try it out. Remember, don't just settle on the first one you find or feel obligated to join the church you were invited to. Each church is different and offers unique services which might be perfect for you. The personality of the ministers or style of worship differ between churches. Choose the church you feel most comfortable at. However, remember one simple rule, not all churches are created equal and no one church is the only way to heaven. If your church claims that it is the only way, this is a sign to look for another church.
FIRST. Look for a church that presents the Gospel, or the good news message of hope and salvation. This may include themes like how God loves everyone, Jesus died for all our sins, and has forgiven us all our sins. The best way to see if this is part of the church your visiting is to sit through the worship services and visit a Bible Study or small group. They should use or quote the Bible in their services and classes. One thing you can do is to take notes of the verses mentioned from the Bible in the message or lesson. Then take your notepad home and read the section before and after the verse. Put the meaning of these readings into your own words and see if it matches the context used in worship and classes. Also be aware of what translations of the Bible they use. If you need a Bible, let us know.
SECOND. Listening to what is said in the service, classes, or with speaking to the Pastor directly, find the answers to these questions:
You will also want to look at the churches public statements of faith. These are called doctrines. Each of the seven questions above relate to a specific doctrine of the church. If the churches doctrines differ from the church itself, ask the pastor for clarification. If the church you were attending is part of a denomination, you will want to check out the denomination's statements of faith as well. You can search for the church body on Wikipedia or in Google to get basic information on the denomination. There also are questions which you may ask the Pastor to gauge the dedication to the doctrines of the Church.
THIRD: When searching for churches to visit, don't just look at churches in your neighborhood or which are convenient to get to. Also, don't judge the church by its facilities. A church meeting in a school auditorium may be better suited for you than the cathedral across from your home.
Don't just select the first church you go to. Try different churches in your community and neighboring communities. Each church has its own worship style, teaching style, services and classes, and opportunities. Don't settle on a church that is o.k., look for one where you can feel as part of the family.
FOURTH: In any church, if it does not match your beliefs - move on. Never settle on a church where you disregard part of the teachings. By attending a church where you do not fully believe in the teachings is neglecting God's truth. What this church teaches is what you will be judged by and your children will be guided through. To avoid this, make sure they use the Bible and remember that you can always double-check the preacher's sermon against the Bible. Again, feel free to check the public doctrines of the church and ask questions of the Pastor.
FIFTH: Remember that you do not need to join a church to attend it regularly. Visit a church more than once. Once you have found one you like, become a regular attendee and get involved. If the church pressures you to join, evaluate why, perhaps there is a hidden agenda. Talk with the Pastor or other staff members. ASK QUESTIONS. After a while, you may find out this isn't the church for you. This may be after a month or thirty years. If this happens, start back at step one and look for a new church. You also may want to talk with your Pastor about your concerns.
Remember, much like your own home, you can move whenever you want. The key is to be happy in your church, having a feeling that your spiritual needs are being met. Make sure your church and small/bible study groups have people that challenge you to grow in your friendship with Christ.
SIXTH: Once you have decided on a Church that you want to join, start getting involved. You do not need to be a member of the church to be involved! Attend congregational meetings (even though you can't vote, you'll understand the church's mission and vision), join the new members class (it will help you learn more about the church), attend bible study (see if the Word of God is present in a way that allows deeper study), and get involved in the social activities (a great way to meet people and hear why they like the church. Finally, I encourage you to determine your gifts and how the church can use them. Do you design web pages, help with the Internet ministry; great with kids, help with the nursery or Sunday School, etc. etc.
SEVENTH: When you are ready to join, make sure you get connected with someone at the church who can help direct you to ministries of the church you could benefit from and ones that can benefit from you.