Let’s face it, there is no perfect church.
As someone who has had a number of occupational moves over the years, I’ve attended a number of churches, and have noticed some specific features, that are consistently present in churches that are growing in the Lord, and lacking in those that are somehow stagnant. It is important to distinguish those aspects that are “root causes” as opposed to characteristics that are simply consequential.
First of all, it is necessary to do some due diligence in selecting your church home. They’re not all the same, and you are responsible to you and your family to investigate.
Recall Acts 17:11 in which “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Here they were, investigating and questioning what the Apostle Paul was saying. They measured everything against the word of God, and were commended as “noble-minded” and of “more noble character.”
We should be admired as such.
There are two primary characteristics that are critical in a church.
The first characteristic is the church’s “leadership” structure.
I have written extensively on church leadership here and here, and it is amazing to me how many, otherwise, faithful believers are completely ignorant of what the Bible teaches about basic church leadership.
First of all, the leadership structure of any organization, whether it’s a non-profit organization, a company, or a family, is fundamentally significant.
Especially with a church, if you ignore the teaching of a plurality of elders, you’re off to a bad start.
Too many churches have a Pastor only leadership structure, which is dangerous because it lacks accountability, or a Congregational rule structure, which may be democratic but misses the Biblical direction of responsible and spiritually gifted male leaders.
Neither structure is Biblical, and I would avoid any church that does not adhere to the plurality of elder’s concept of leadership. You can read my posts above for further Biblical references.
The second characteristic is the church’s understanding of “salvation.”
I discuss the dangers of a wrong salvation theology here and discuss in detail the Biblical underpinnings of election vs. free will salvation here and here. Additionally, you can find more information by searching this site on “election.”
The fundamental question is “did God choose us” or “did we choose God.”
How a church answers this question will determine how the church approaches evangelism since evangelism is the lifeblood of church growth.
Inherent in this issue is the determination of who gets the credit, or, better yet, who gets the glory for our salvation decisions; us, or the Lord. It should go without saying that it should be the Lord, yet many reject this concept.
This one concept can lead to a false gospel that is intrinsically self-destructive to church growth and ultimately your spiritual growth.
If I could only give one piece of advice, it would be to make sure you understand the biblical principles of church leadership and salvation, and ensure that the church you attend adheres to the correct biblical standards.