Well, as many of you would have read in the anchor post for this article, over the next few weeks we’re talking about what to look for in a healthy Church, so whether you are looking for a healthy Church, or if you’re a Church looking for ways to become healthier, then this is the series for you! In today’s post we’re looking at the first two “non-negotiables” in Joshua Harris’ Book “Why Church Matters”, God’s Word and Sound Doctrine.
What do you go to Church for?
When asking people what they look for in a Church, often Word and Doctrine are some of the secondary things mentioned that people look for, but truly, these reveal more about a Church than you could imagine. If a Church has no reverence for God’s Word and has totally abandoned Doctrine warning bells should be sounding.
Is God’s Word faithfully taught?
First of all, you need to be asking if the Church is a place where God’s word is faithfully taught. Is the scripture which is read used in context and does the sermon build on that scripture. So often I’ve been to sermons which mention scripture in passing and then proceed to be an endless string of anecdotes and at other times scripture has been shared entirely out of context, sometimes to the detriment of the core teaching of that Scripture. A Church which is faithful to the Word of God and shares it honestly and meaningfully is one in which God’s presence can be found. The question you need to answer is whether God’s word is the highlight of the sermon, or whether the preacher is highlighting themselves and their great ability to write. A great sermon simply shares God’s word and tries to unpack what that word is trying to say to His people.
A great sermon simply shares God’s word and tries to unpack what that word is trying to say to His people.[Tweet This!]
Is this a Church where sound doctrine matters?
With many Churches trying to kick as hard against tradition as they can, I believe sound doctrine is one of the most crucial things you can look for in a healthy Church. Doctrine is simply put, whatever the Bible teaches about a given subject. The problem is that the idea of doctrine and following doctrine has been lumped in with people’s prejudices against tradition. While I’m all for focusing on relationship rather than religion, I do believe we need to still have a firm foundation, and when we abandon that, we’re in trouble. What I often do when scouting a Church is I look on their website at their core beliefs or I attend their newcomers course to pick up what they believe and what doctrines they follow. If these are not supported by Scripture, I know to be careful. When we start to make up our own doctrine, either because Scripture is uncomfortable or because we’re twisting scripture for our own purposes, how can we possibly be healthy? So, look carefully at the beliefs of the Church you’re looking at joining, but also as a Church, explore carefully which doctrines you uphold, and examine whether they still stand in the light of Scripture.
So what should you look out for?
When scouting for a Church, go to a few of the services and attend their newcomers or welcome course and ask yourself the following questions:
Was the scripture shared meaningful and did the sermon build around it, rather than the scriptures simply being seasoning for a worldly message?
Are the core beliefs of this Church scriptural?
It may seem like a lot of work to ask these questions and go do some homework, but really, the way a Church treats the Word of God and the way they live it out are key for them being a healthy Church!
Please drop us a comment on your experiences in finding this kind of Church, or even tell us how your Church shares Word meaningfully, I’d love to hear from you!