Question: What is the church?
Answer: Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.
Question: What should I be looking for in a church?
Answer: In order to know what to look for in a local church, we must first understand God's purpose for the church. There are two outstanding truths about the church. First, the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). Second, Christ alone is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18).
In regard to the truth, the local church is a place where the Bible has complete authority. The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Therefore, when seeking a church to attend, we should find one where, according to biblical standards, the gospel is preached, sin is condemned, worship is from the heart, the teaching is biblical, and opportunities to minister to others exist.
In regard to the second truth about the church, Christians should attend a local fellowship that declares Christ's headship in all matters of doctrine and practice. No man, whether pastor, priest, or pope, is the head of the church.
Once these two fundamental truths are set, the rest of the factors (buildings, worship styles, activities, programs, location, etc.) are merely a matter of personal preference. Before attending a church, some research is necessary. Doctrinal statements, purpose statements, or anything that will give insight into what a church believes should be carefully examined.
Finally, remember that no church is perfect. At best, it is still filled with saved sinners whose flesh and spirits are continually at war. Also, do not forget the importance of prayer. Praying about the church God would have you attend is crucial throughout the decision-making process.
The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return.
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