I live in a town of 2,700 people. There are 13 churches in the area. There are 13 churches because there are 13 different belief systems, style preferences, or historic roots among them. They are not all created equal. Which one would the Lord will you to join?
What to look for in a church.
The Authority and Inerrancy of the Bible. If a church wavers on a high view of Scripture, the door is wide open to all kinds of errors.
A Place with Sound Doctrine. What they believe affects what they preach and how they live. Look for a “Statement of Faith” or “What We Believe” and compare it to the Bible.
Expositional Preaching. This is expounding a Bible passage to explain the meaning and apply it to the lives of the hearers. Beware of churches whose messages are just stories, designed to boost self-esteem, or consistently avoid certain Bible topics (2 Tim 4:3-4).
A Place that Equips and Encourages Discipleship. They must be more concerned with Christian growth than numerical growth. A pastor who shepherds and is involved in the life of his people is a great litmus test.
True Christian Fellowship is Occurring. Is there support, correction, and guidance take place among the members? Are they exercising their gifts (1 Pet 4:10) and encouraging love and good deeds (Heb 10:24)?
What to avoid.
Churches that preach another gospel. Those that do are “accursed” (Gal 1:9). This includes teaching that adds baptism, speaking in tongues, or some other “work” to salvation. The sinner can only be saved by God’s grace, through faith (Eph 2:8-9). It is His gift to the believer!
Churches that affirm women pastors and elders. The pastor is an elder (1 Tim. 5:17) who is the husband of one wife (Titus 1:5-7). The Bible says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Tim 2:13-14). If a church misses this plain area of Scripture, it should not be trusted to properly interpret other areas.
Churches that are “ok” with sin. No matter what the current culture is doing, Christ’s true church is faithful to Him. Avoid churches that endorse homosexuality (Rom 1:26-29, 1 Cor 6:9-10) or known sexual immorality (Rom 1:24, Eph 5:3). The biblical church loves her people too much to turn a blind eye to sinning members.
This is not an exhaustive list of considerations, but I pray it is helpful. Where you go church matters—indeed some “churches” are not churches at all in the biblical sense. Look for a church that worships Jesus Christ. The list above will help point you there.