Within your communities, you can choose to attend a church from one of many different denominations. West Virginia, like many parts of the nation, has most types of churches represented throughout the state. To say the least, the church you attend should be thoroughly Christian, that is, it should preach and teach the only true Gospel of Jesus Christ--that he is God-made-flesh, that he died, was buried, and rose from the grave so that those who believe in him might be saved from their sins and resurrected unto eternal life. Not all churches preach this message, and therefore not all churches are Christian.
How can you know if your church is Christian? Seek the answers to the following three questions as a starting place: 1) Does your church preach this gospel clearly and regularly? 2) Does it regularly and faithfully preach the rest of the Scriptures within which this Gospel is set? 3) Or, does it preach any other gospel besides this one (i.e., that salvation can be had by any other means than faith alone in this particular Gospel)?
The answers to these three questions should be 1) yes, 2) yes, and 3) no. If your answers are different then you should find a different church.
But that is not all that you should consider.
More than this, according to Scripture, your church should also have elders (or pastors), should practice church discipline, and should administer the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper. If it does not, then what you are participating in is not a church, and you should find one that is.
Besides this, your church should provide a community for fellowship and service. Christians are gifted by Christ to serve one another. Your church is the main, divinely-ordained arena in which this is supposed to occur. It should be your primary place of service, and your brothers and sisters in Christ should be the primary recipients of your service. You should attend a church that recognizes and encourages this.
Your church should also be a place of worship. One of the main reasons it exists is to bring Christians together into one body to worship God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This worship does not exist to entertain you or to fit your preferences (the kind of music that you like). What you like or don't like (or enjoy or don't enjoy) about a worship service is never the deciding factor in which church you attend. Worship exists for God and it was ordained by God to be done in community with other people. If entertaining the audience is more important than the Object of your church's worship, then you should consider finding a different church.
Lastly, your church should be evangelistic, both in your surrounding community and as far out as it can reach through missions. The people within the church should be in the business of sharing the Gospel, accompanied by sincere prayers that the Spirit would change people's hearts and give them faith. This is how the Kingdom grows, and it is the primary mission Christ gave his followers before he returned to heaven. This is the main way that the Church changes the world.
Don't just attend any church. Pick one that matches up with what God says the church should be. If you would like to know more of what the Bible says about what a church should be and do, check out my book A Church You Can See.
Thanks for Reading!
Pastor Dennis Bills
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