“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
The Bible calls for believers to gather together in fellowship and support each other. This to me has been one of the most difficult steps, as I’ve found nearly all “modern” Christian churches have false teachings, many times as part of their statements of faith, which I refuse to sign. The “church” of today in my opinion is way to “progressive” and “liberal”; this applies even to the churches that use the “reformed” buzzword attached to them. Just see the chapter on Wolves to see how far and wide false teachings pervade modern Christianity and modern church pulpits!
You may also have noticed that this wasn’t the first step that you should do as a new Christian. The A #1 most important thing is starting to read and properly understand (and memorize) Scripture. Without a solid foundation in that, you will very likely end up in an apostate or dead or false-teaching church, and not even realize it!
You should also avoid churches which preach a false Gospel of works (e.g. Catholicism, 7th Day Adventists), or of lukewarm apathy (e.g. Methodists), or of legalism/Sabbatarians, or of false-prophets (7th Day Adventists, Mormons, etc.), those who worship idols (Catholicism), or those who teach false end-times rapture fantasies and deceptions (John MacArthur, 7th Day Adventists, Calvary Chapels and hundreds of other so called “reformed” protestant churches), the blatantly fraud “charismatics”, and the “prosperity preachers”.
Generally, what you’re looking for is a Church of God, or Church of Christ. I am not even discussing trying to pick a Catholic vs Protestant church, as 1) Catholicism isn’t even Christianity, and 2) Most “protestant”, and “reformed protestant” churches of the various denominations have wandered so far from basic Christianity taught in Scripture that they should not even be on your list of consideration.
As you see, the challenge of finding a church today is daunting, as wolves in sheep’s clothing abound in all directions (see the Wolves chapter and you’ll understand what I’m talking about in much more detail). You will have to do the best you can and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit through prayer.
I’ve found that I have to listen to many different pastors and try to sift out the wheat from the chaff in all of them. They all have bits of truth spread out in their teachings.
Nevertheless, despite all the foregoing challenges mentioned, these are things I believe are important to look for when choosing a church:
- The Pastor should sincerely love God. You can usually tell this by how the Pastor acts, their demeanor, etc. They should exhibit the fruit of the spirit as it is written: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
- They should teach the Word of God in an expositional manner (i.e. read the bible at each and every service), hopefully accurately, and use Jesus and the bible as a prop behind them on stage while they tell cutesy stories of how good and successful and rich Jesus will make you (and them).
- They should get the Gospel message (mostly) correct. There are endless divisions, disputes, disagreements, and even arguments over things like baptism, “good works”, etc, etc… Ideally, their teachings should conform and confirm to what is written in this booklet, which itself should conform and confirm to what is written in Scripture.
- They should glorify God with worship (please note, a church service is not “entertainment”, or “an experience”, or anything). Modern music is often not in the Spirit of the Lord.
- They should love and serve the local community
- They should not “constantly beg” for money. To a Christian, the Spirit of God should move you to contribute financially, out of a cheerful heart. Church “begging” is not in the bible.
- They should be exercising Biblical “discipline”. This topic is beyond the scope of this book.
- They should not be concerned with nor involved in the political or economic affairs of the world.
- They should welcome and love ALL who come, no matter what sin(s) those people are involved in. Remember, we are ALL sinners, and we ALL started in sin also!
- They should practice communion (Breaking of Bread, or the Lord’s Supper).
One note on the Scripture verses below from the book of Revelation. I’ve included the instructions to the churches from that book in this chapter. These were real literal letters written to real literal churches that existed in the day that John wrote the book of Revelation. They are NOT mapped to “historical periods” of the church history as many falsely teach/claim. They contain a wealth of information for the born-again Christian, on exactly what Christ likes, doesn’t like and expects from those who follow Him. These instructions apply equally to believers in every age, including today. There is a little bit of each of the churches in each believer. We must be continually mindful, watchful and wary of straying out of the way to eternal life.
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. – Romans 12:9-13
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. – Ephesians 4:11-12
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22
And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs. – Mark 6:7
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. – Romans 15:1
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-9
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’” – Revelation 2:12-17
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 2:18-29
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:1-6
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:7-13
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:14-22
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (communion, or the Lord’s supper)
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. – Acts 2:46-47 (communion, or the Lord’s supper)