Posted by: baptistthinker | January 2, 2012

What Is A Priority In Seeking A New Church?

I’ve been thinking on this for a few months now, what are good priorities to have in seeking a new church. Primarily, I have been thinking on this because I have been prayerfully considering leaving my current church. I won’t get into the why I’m leaving my church here, but I think that my reasoning is sound. I hesitated at first, when I thought of leaving my church. I’ve been with this church for a few years now. It’s been a place where I’ve grown spiritually, where I’ve met good Christian friends who love the Lord and who have encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. It’s a church that loves evangelism and missions, and places a high priority on those things. But there are other things, that have caused me to desire fellowship elsewhere.

So now, I’m seeking a new church. I’ve made a list of various churches in my area that I would like to visit over the next few months, or several months, however long it takes. I’ve been creating a spreadsheet, that will feature what I’m looking for in a church, what I think is a priority, and also some preferences, and how these churches “measure up”. Of course, the spreadsheet alone won’t make the decision for me. It may be that while seeking a new church family, I find one that doesn’t necessarily measure up to my spreadsheet but is a great fit for me anyway. Just as I’ve prayed for wisdom in leaving my church, I’m now praying for wisdom in seeking a church.

Here are some things I consider a priority:

1. Solid Biblical teaching and preaching. This is major. I don’t want to go to a church that simply preaches from the Bible, about Christ. But one that preaches Christ, and preaches Scripture. I don’t want to go to a church that teaches me that I have to try harder, that I have to do better, that I have to be better. I don’t want moralism. I don’t want legalism.

2. Being doctrinally sound. This one is a biggie, I don’t want a church that is waffly on doctrine, or that has faulty theology. I’ve been in those churches before, it’s not a good place to be. It helps if they are Reformed in their doctrine, and they must be Baptistic. No paedobaptism, thank you very much.

3. Provided I someday get married, this church should be a place where I would want my wife and children to learn about God and Jesus Christ. I can’t be a part of a church where I have to go home and explain what was wrong with what was taught from the pulpit every Sunday. I want my church to be my partner in teaching my family about Christ. While I would primarily be responsible for preaching the Gospel to my family, my church should be helping me in that. Just like I should be helping my church in preaching the Gospel. I want a church that will help teach me to teach the Gospel to my family.

4. Has to be a place where I can help serve in some way. I don’t want to be a pew warmer. I want to help in any way I can. At the same time, I don’t want to be overloaded with responsibility and work. I’ve been there before, and that can burn you out. But I don’t want to just be a “member”, where being a member really doesn’t require anything.

5. Understands and is willing to practice Biblical church discipline. Too many churches today don’t. I want a church that loves people enough, and where the leaders love the flock enough, to practice church discipline.

What I consider a preference:

1. The use of hymns. Now, every song doesn’t need to be a grand old hymn from 200 years ago. But it’s nice to have them, to sing them. I could care less about singing “I could sing of your love forever(27 times until it seems like forever)”, but give me a song that has meaning and depth and substance. The hymns have that. Hymns like “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, or “The Love of God”. But don’t necessarily leave out modern hymns like “In Christ Alone”. I love good Christian music that has sound theology(sidenote: the music must have sound theology, whether modern or old. That’s a priority). Music has the ability to shape the theology of the church. For further information on this point, check out the book “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns”.

2. The use of hymnals(super-preference!). This is just one that would make me super-happy at a church. I love using songbooks during the music at church. I can sort of read music, and I know by looking at a songbook when I’m supposed to sing higher or lower. I prefer to sing harmony over melody. Project screens are fine and all, but not nearly as much fun as an entire congregation singing in harmony. Melody gets old after a while.

3. Has a standard translation for teaching and preaching. I’m not saying that they need to be KJV-Only, or ESV-Only, but I think it does something for a church when they say “in our teaching and preaching, we are primarily going to be using the _________ Translation.” Why? Because it kind of keeps everybody on the same page. Further, it encourages the memorization of Scripture. It is, I think, easier for the children of the church, and even the older folks, to memorize Scripture when their church is on the same translation.

These are just a few things that I’ve been considering. I’ve struggled long with this decision. I don’t want to simply be a “consumer”, and I don’t want to treat the church with a Consumerist Mentality. I don’t want to just say “well, the church isn’t doing this thing that *I* would like them to do, so it’s no good.”

Here are a couple links to check out on this:
When should I leave my church?-Tim Challies
What things should I look for in a church?-CARM
When to leave a church.-RC Sproul

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Responses

  1. Will, I pray that you find a church that will be a place of mutual service and growth. I like that you distinguished between priorities and preferences. That is helpful.

    Recently, we found ourselves in a similar boat due to a change in geography. I have been more than thrilled with our new church.

    P.S. I appreciate that you have my blog in your links. I have changed the name of it recently.

    • I see that now Frank. Updated and noted. 😉 Thanks for your comments.

  2. Hi! Would you please follow me on Twitter so I can DM you some questions? My username is treeshaveleaves. Thanks!


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