Inevitably at some time everyone has to look for a church. Whether it be because of a move, a change in relationships, or maybe a disagreement with someone or something, shopping for a new church can be a difficult process. So what should you be looking for when checking out your potential new church family?

You might be expecting me to say doctrine is the most important thing to consider, but doctrine is only one part of the puzzle. First thing, if you are looking for a church that 100% agrees with everything you believe, you may be looking for a very long time. When considering doctrine consider what is foundational (Jesus is God, Jesus is the only way of salvation), and what is secondary (type of music, dress code, etc). You will probably find more churches that you agree on the essentials and can live with the other issues.

While doctrine is important it is only one part of what should make up a good church. In Acts 2:42 we find a perfect description of what church should be like: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Four items are given that made up the very first church: doctrine (disciples teaching), fellowship, communion (breaking break), and prayer. It is these four attributes that should help us determine if a church is a good fit – a church needs to have each of these if they are going to be a good church, but there is also a catch: these need to be kept in balance.

Many churches that I have encountered over the years have done each of the four items listed in Acts, but often times what happens is that they focus on one attribute to the exclusion of the others. Most often this is the case with doctrine – churches love to focus on doctrine more than anything else because after all, what a person believes determines their eternal condition. The problem however is that we tend to major on the minors and minor on the majors. Too much time is spend on issues that don’t really matter, issues that are more preference than matters of Biblical truth. I’m not talking about doctrines like the deity of Jesus, or the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but rather issues like good parenting, worship style, and the like.

The next several posts we’ll talk about each of these attributes in more detail and then wrap it all up nice and neat in the end.