HOW TO FIND A GOOD CHURCH
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
How does one go about finding a "good" church? A church they can trust to learn about God? A church that they don't have to be concerned about being taught deception? You may or may not be familiar with Bill Keller. (Bill Keller is being used of God to touch many, many lives for the glory of Jesus, and we are greatly blessed, as numerous people are, to receive Bill's Daily Devotional. You can sign up for Bill's Daily Devotional, and learn about his ministry as well, by clicking onto: LivePrayer).
Bill's devotional dated April 23, 2007 addresses not only the question of how to go about finding a trustworthy church, but also how to spot trusted Internet ministries as well as radio and television ministries. Here is what Bill has to share on the subject, and I whole-heartedly endorse what he has to say:
DAILY DEVOTIONAL - MONDAY APRIL 23, 2007
How can you trust what you read on Christian Internet sites, hear on Christian radio, or see on Christian television? Even more important, how can you trust what church to go to? Every single day, we are inundated here at Liveprayer with emails from people who are confused and misled because of things they have read on Christian websites. There are currently over a million websites that claim to be "Christian." Along this same line, we also deal every day with people who email us with questions about something they heard on Christian radio or saw on Christian television. Most alarming, however, are the emails we get daily from people confused because of what they were told at a church they went to.
From the very beginning of the church in the Book of Acts, heresy was a problem. Every time I read the passage about Simon the Sorcerer in Acts Chapter 8, I can't help but to think of many of the people you see on TV today representing Christ. Paul was constantly dealing with those who were preaching "another gospel," a perversion of the Truth. Writings in contradiction to the Scriptures were very prominent even at the time the books of the New Testament were being written. Apostate churches, churches that operated in rebellion to God's Word have been part of the scene since the church was birthed right after the death and resurrection of Jesus. So, these are not new issues the church has had to contend with.
Let me give you some basic rules to try and help you so that you are not deceived by what you read on "Christian websites," watch and hear on Christian TV and radio, and so that you are not going to a church that is operating in rebellion to God despite their claim to be "Christian." When it comes to Christian websites, you are dealing with a very dangerous world for the simple fact that there are no standards, no controls, no restrictions on content.
For less than $100 you can create a website and for $20 a month have it hosted. This allows basically anyone to have a website on the Internet. I don't think I need to say much more for you to see how incredibly dangerous this is when the reality is, virtually anyone can have a "Christian" website that says anything you can dream up ...AND THEY DO!
I look for several things when I am visiting a Christian website I am not familiar with. The first thing is who put the website up? What is the name of the person or organization responsible for the content? Second, if I don't know that person or organization, I want to find out who they are.
What is their Statement of Faith? Lastly and most critical, does what they say line up with God's Word? (Here we are, back at that critical place we come to often when it is so important for you to read and study God's Word so that you can discern when you are being told something that is simply not in the Bible or a perversion of what God says in His Word.) If I can't find out who the person or organization is, what their Statement of Faith is, I refuse to even read what is on their site. A legitimate Christian website is going to be very up front about who they are and what they believe.
When it comes to Christian radio and television, it is not quite as easy since you are dealing with people who are proficient in speaking as well as in eliciting your emotions, making it much more difficult to discern those who are preaching a false message. Since they all use the Bible, it makes it very difficult to discern error when they take Scripture out of context or pervert it. That is why when it comes to anyone on radio or television, unless I know who they are, where they stand doctrinally, I won't even allow myself to listen to them. Again, it goes back to knowing WHO the person is that is feeding you spiritually. Not too many people are going to let a stranger come up to you on the street and give you something to eat they have cooked. If you are that cautious about what you eat when it comes to food for your body, you should be even more cautious when it comes to the spiritual food for your eternal soul!
Without a doubt, what drives me crazy every day are so called "churches" that are no more a church than a mosque is! Just 50 years ago, you could go to any Christian church regardless of their denomination, and even though there might be some difference in some of the doctrinal issues we have used to divide ourselves, the bottom line was that they still preached and taught from one source...THE BIBLE! In most churches today, you are more likely to hear passages from new Age garbage like "The Secret," or a book of poems, or about any book OTHER THAN God's Word. In some churches, you have to make sure you are not in the local comedy club as you are fed a monologue of jokes. The fact is that you will rarely go to a church where you will actually hear about sin and be brought under conviction about anything, since the goal is not to help you grow spiritually, but entertain you, and at all costs - NOT OFFEND YOU OR ANYONE!
Of course, you are very likely to go to a church and sit next to a man and woman living together outside of the bonds of marriage who don't even know that is not God's plan, or next to Thomas and Mark who are in a "loving relationship," or a local attorney who is married and having an affair everyone knows about with the cute girl in the third row of the choir. You are more likely to get a free toaster for coming to church than a Bible.
You won't hear about how to save souls, but you will hear about next "Vegas night" with all the proceeds going to the churches school. You will hear stories of reaching people in some far off country, but never hear about any efforts to reach the people who live within a block of the church. You will be challenged to give to build a new building, but not save the lost. You are more likely to see a skit or creative dance number than hear how to be a Godly mother or father. One thing I guarantee you that you will NOT hear on Sunday in 90% of the so call churches out there, and that is in invitation to know Jesus as your Savior!
It is easy to warn people about the cults like the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unitarians, who try to masquerade as "Christian churches." The sad reality of the year 2007 is that I am just as leery of most churches who claim to be followers of Christ! Churches that openly promote and glorify gross sin like homosexuality. Churches that support a woman's choice to kill her unborn baby. Here is the bottom line litmus test for any pastor and church... God's Word. If any pastor does not believe that the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant Word, representing Absolute Truth and our final authority in all matters, that is a man to RUN FROM! Any church that is not preaching and teaching the Bible, is a church to RUN FROM! There is only ONE TRUTH, the Bible. There is only ONE BOOK that can transform the hearts and lives of men, the Bible! The job of the church is to save the lost, spiritually feed from God's Word the congregation, provide a community of faith for Believers, and train and equip the saints to serve the Lord!
The Internet is such a great tool to reach people for Christ. I thank God daily for this incredible technology that we have been able to use to reach tens of millions of people all over the world over these past 8 years, impact millions of lives for Christ, and see over 170,000 people we know of rerouted from a conveyor belt to hell to a mansion in Glory! However, it is also a very dangerous place since there are no restrictions or guidelines and anyone with a few dollars can put up whatever content they want, leading unsuspecting people astray with false theology and bad doctrine. That is why it is critical to know who is putting up the website what they really believe, and measure all they say through the filter of God's Word.
You should use the same guidelines for Christian radio and television. KNOW WHO THE PERSON IS who is feeding you spiritually. Check them out before you listen to them. Most of the people you will see and hear have a great gift to communicate, they know how to play on your emotions, and they can be very deceiving in the things they say. When it comes to where you go to church, the pastor is critical since he is the one God called to lead that congregation. He MUST believe the Bible to be God's inspired and inerrant Word and needs to preach and teach from that Book. There is no other source of Truth, and there are no other words that can transform your heart and life for this life and all eternity.
NEVER FORGET THIS. No matter how beautiful a website may be, no matter how charismatic a man or woman on radio or television may be, no mater how gorgeous and state-of-the-art a church may be, they all mean NOTHING unless they are bringing you the Truth of God's Word. Without the Truth of the Bible, a website can do nothing! As clever as many of these men and women in Christian media think they are, they only have one message that means anything, the Gospel. A true church can't offer you anything of eternal significance other than to feed you with God's Word.
In the end, there is only one way you can trust what you read on Christian Internet sites, hear on radio, or see on television, and what church to go to...that is if they are presenting the Truth of the Bible!
In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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