As you know, I am writing a book on spiritual growth. One of the topics I cover in the book is the church. To put it simply, you cannot become spiritually mature by yourself. We need each other to grow spiritually.
We need to understand that there is not a perfect church anywhere. Churches are made of people, and none of us are perfect. The saying goes, “If you find the perfect church, don’t join it; you will spoil the atmosphere.” But you need to find a church where you can become a part of and grow there.
Let me give you some essential things that you should be looking for in a church. First, what is the foundation for that church? Ephesians 2:20 (NLT) tells us, “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.” Is the church built on a scriptural foundation? When Paul wrote this, he did not have the New Testament. Paul said that the church is built on a foundation of the apostles and prophets. Basically, he was saying the foundation needs to be the teaching of Jesus’s apostles and what the Old Testament taught. Look for a church that teaches the whole Word for God.
Next, do you fit? The Bible teaches that you are a vital part of the church. God has shaped you to fit but you will not fit with everyone. Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” When Paul said that church is fit together, he used a masonry term. This Greek word was used to describe a mason taking a stone and shaping it with a chisel. God shaped you to fit in a church. He may need to knock off a few rough edges before you can fit in, but He has a special place for you. Where is that place? Ask Him, and He will tell you. Notice that Paul says that it will cause growth in the church. This is not a reference to numerical growth but a reference to spiritual growth. When we are fitted together, we grow, but everyone touching us will also grow. This growth comes as each part supplies what the other part needs.
The last thing that I want to show you is that the leadership of a church is very important. Make sure the church has strong leadership. Strong in their own moral character. In other words, they practice what they preach. Peter and Paul wrote much about the qualifications of church leadership. These lists contain things about a person’s moral character. Does the leader qualify to lead? That is a question you need to ask. Also, how does the pastor shepherd the flock? Do they genuinely care for the people?
In 1 Peter 5, Peter is speaking to the elders. Elders are the leadership of the church. In verse three, Peter tells the elders to not lord over the flock but to be an example. When you look at the pastor do you like what you see? Are they leading like Jesus, the Good Shepherd led? The leadership of the church will lead you in the path they follow personally. Where are they going? Do you want to go there? Do you want to be like them?
I hope that these few words have helped you to find the church God has for you.