Pastoral Articles

How to Choose a Church

How to Choose a Church

By: Dr. Jeff VanGoethem


As long as churches are made up of fallible people like you and me, there will be no such thing as perfect church.  In fact the old saying is true:  “if you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it . . .  because you will ruin it!”  Yet there are many, many good churches where you can learn, grow, serve and belong.  How can we recognize a good church?

A good church is welcoming and hospitable to the visitor.  Naturally it takes some time and effort to feel at home in any church, but do you see signs that the church has made an effort to welcome those who are visiting?   Do you gain a sense that the church is glad you are visiting?

Integrity of Leadership
A good church is led by trustworthy leaders. As you come to know a church do you sense that the pastoral and other leadership is trusted by the congregation?  Have the leaders been around a while and are their lives and reputations above reproach?

A good church has an uplifting worship service. Do you feel encouraged and challenged by the worship service? Is the singing strong and heartfelt?  Is the preaching strong?  Do you feel like you are drawing closer to God?

A good church is a teaching church.  Is God’s Word taught in the services, classes and programs?  Do you grow in your knowledge of God and Christian living as you attend and listen?

A good church is not afraid to proclaim the truth, even the harder doctrines of the Bible. The point of the Christian faith is not to change with the times, but to proclaim the message of Christ. As this message is proclaimed, it may change us, that is the idea.

Every Stage of Life
A good church ministers to people from cradle to grave.  Are children nurtured in the Christian faith?  Are there activities for the teens which challenge them to embrace Jesus Christ and follow Him? Are the older folks cared for?  Is there something for singles? Is there an emphasis on quality family life?

A good church has a vision to reach others for Christ. Christianity has always been a missionary, reaching religion.  Is there a passion to reach others for Christ, both locally and around the world?

A good church has a heart for those who need help.  Does the church respond to disasters and troubles?  Are they willing to extend themselves in mercy for those who are hurting?

A good church is to function by having all the members serve one another.  Does there seem to be a culture of service in the church?  Is there a way for you to use your God given gifts to serve others?

A good church has standards and expectations. Christianity has always thrived when there have been high expectations of its followers.  Do you have a sense that the congregation cares more about what God thinks than what man thinks?  Do members encourage one another to follow Christ faithfully?

A good church is faithful to its God-given mission on earth. Does the church seem to have a solid mission?  Is it faithful to sound doctrine?  Does it proclaim Christ, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His second coming?  Does it seem to be truly grounded in the historic Christian faith?

A good church is a praying church.  Does the church have any organized prayer effort?  Does anyone participate?  Are there others who will pray for you and your problems?  Do the people know how to pray?

A good church is a loving church.  Do you have a sense that a spirit of kindness exists in the fellowship?   Can you get your questions answered and your doubts addressed?


Obviously, all of this spells out a tall order for any local church!  We must remember that like our own lives, churches are a work in progress.  But as you visit and attend churches in your search for a good church, look for a balance of these characteristics.  If you are fortunate enough to find a good church, you will be greatly blessed.  Nowhere on earth will you find more solid direction for life and living.  Nowhere on earth will you find better friends and more loyal support. Nowhere on earth will you find a greater sense of support and help during times of difficulty and pain. And best of all, you will grow in your understanding of Christ’s great and eternal love for you and what it means to have a relationship with God.

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