We hope you find your answers in the questions below!
It helps to begin with the understanding that there is a specific place that God has for you. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:18 that God sets each one in the body as it pleases Him. So God has already decided where each of us is supposed to be. Therefore it should be our goal to find that place. In that place there will come all that we need from the Lord. It will be a place of fulfillment, spiritual nourishment, and a place to serve and be a blessing to others.
With that foundation, here are a few things one should look for in a home church:
Bible based – Don’t just look for a church that says they believe in the Bible, but one that actually uses it as the final authority in all matters of conduct and doctrine. The sermons that come from the pulpit should be filled with Bible verses, not just statistics, cultural trends and moving stories.
Spirit-filled – The power of the Holy Spirit is vital and really sets apart a living work of God from a dead religion. Without the Spirit’s life-changing power in a church, it is just a social entity. One can see this in action by witnessing changed lives. There should be people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. There should be people being healed in their bodies and receiving answers to their prayers. There is a distinct experience in the Bible called “receiving the Holy Spirit” or the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” These things should be taught and ministered.
Growth – There are many ways in which a church grows and should not be limited to just the number of people in attendance. Nevertheless, anything that lives grows. A church that is alive will be a growing church.
Spiritual food – A pastor could be likened to a master chef. He prays, studies, and prepares a spiritual meal for the church. The messages should be substantive. They should encourage, challenge, and feed your spirit. They should be relevant to your life and help you to live victoriously.
Ministry to youth and children – A strong growing church will be one that gives attention and priority to families. Youth and children need ministry on their level and in context with issues they face in life.
First of all, let me say that we do not believe that Life Church is superior to all other Christian churches. There are many great churches in our area that I respect, believe in, and desire God’s blessing to be upon.
What makes our church different from some of them (and them from us) could be summarized in three categories:
When it comes to salvation, our beliefs are the same as all the other Christian* churches. However, there are some differences on secondary issues. For example, we believe in and practice the gifts of the Spirit as laid out in 1 Corinthians 12. This is why we may be described as “charismatic.” We believe it is God’s will that not only all be saved, but that they also be healed in their bodies, and prospered in their finances. There are sincere Christians that don’t believe these things are for today but still love the Lord. Nevertheless, it does make our church different in that regard.
Second is vision. Each church that God has ordained has their own unique identity. God will use certain pastors to have a stronger emphasis in different areas. Some reach out through television and radio, some have a stronger emphasis on overseas missions, others have a vision for specific demographics in their community. None of these are more right or better than the others. It is just a matter of what God leads them to do.
Third is style. This can refer to the type of music a church uses in worship like singing from a hymnal with an organ or using contemporary songs with a band. It is the type of dress people wear and the formal or informal feel of a service. At Life Church, our music is contemporary and we have quite a blend of dress styles with no dress code for people to attend. Although some have exalted style to the level of faith, it is really more a matter of preference. These styles are most easily identified simply by attending services.
One note of importance: Although one may consider all these differences in deciding on a home church, ultimately, it should not be a matter of choosing but of discovery. God has a place for you and it is important that you find out which local church He wants you planted in. Knowing where He wants you will help you avoid the traps of inconsistency, easily taking offense, and hopping around from church to church.
*(Understand that the word “Christian” is used loosely in some circles referring to all who claim some association with a Christian denomination or who believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior. In reality a Christian is one who has personally received Jesus as Lord and Savior. It refers to a person that has been born-again.)
The problem with the idea that there is only one person on the planet that you could marry (in God’s will) is that one person could mess the whole system up. If your “one” misses God and marries the wrong person then not only are you stuck but also the right “one” that was supposed to marry the one they married is too. This cascades pretty fast into everyone being out of God’s perfect will.
With that said, I do like the approach that there is “one” for me. That person is the one that God will lead me to – and them to me. Although, I don’t believe that there is only one person on earth that you could marry and be in God’s will, I do believe that He will lead you to one. At the right time with the right person there will be a “God-connection” and that person is “the one” for you.
This does leave room for people missing the mark. If you (or the other person) were to miss it regarding the Lord’s leading and forfeit what “could have been” then God in His great wisdom and mercy would still have “the one” for you. He wouldn’t subject you to lifelong solitude. I wouldn’t focus on this last part too much. Just say, “He’s leading me (and them) and we will know.”
I don’t focus on the spiritual part to ignore the natural side. It is wisdom to look at many practical aspects but to leave the final word with the witness of the Spirit inside you.
About just finding a “good Christian.” One element that would concern me with that approach has to do with the call of God. Everyone is called to some type of service. These calls should be compatible. For many people who work a “normal” career and want to raise a family and be involved in the local church, they would probably be all right considering personalities, etc. I think that the higher the call, the more important this selection is. In other words, for some, the pool of people from which “the one” could come out of is greater than for others.
Life Church agrees with the fact that God is sovereign. Moreover, the New International Version of the Bible uses the term “Sovereign Lord” 303 times. Various meanings associated with this word “sovereign” are defined as, “Paramount, supreme; having supreme rank or power; independent; excellent.” Indeed, the God we serve is all of these things and more!
In addition, Life Church contends that in God’s sovereignty He is not “controlling” everything (e.g., orchestrating car accidents or arranging other forms premature deaths in order to “take” people to Heaven, etc.).