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"The entrance of thy words giveth light (Psalm 119:130)."

How to Select a Church.

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV)."

For those new to Christianity, selecting the right church to attend can be confusing at best. And selecting the wrong church can be a disaster! There are no perfect churches. However, the church you select should make a good-faith effort to obey everything in the Bible.

Here are some simple guidelines for selecting a church.

Bible: The church must use an accurate version of the Bible. The Bibles I recommend are the most commonly used by legitimate churches. Some legitimate churches do use the New Living Translation Bible (NLT). If yours does, I recommend that you not use an NLT Bible as your primary study Bible. Some large churches that use illegitimate Bibles include the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e. Mormons).

Source of Truth: The church should recognize the Bible as the only objective source of truth. Not church traditions or the pronouncements of some church leader or group of elders.

The church's understanding and interpretation of Scripture should be consistent with other conservative Protestant churches and ministries. If what you are hearing is markedly different, you are being taught by someone who is untrained, incompetent or who is a false prophet.

Allowable Differences: Legitimate churches may have differing viewpoints on whether or not it is possible to lose your salvation.

Legitimate churches also have differing viewpoints on non-central issues (Speaking in tongues, consumption of alcohol etc.). This is to be expected.

Cults: The church should not teach that it is the only "true" or legitimate church. The church should not discourage you from associating with family and friends. Nor should the church encourage you to turn all your worldly wealth over to the church. If any of these occur, leave the church immediately and never return.

Pastor: The pastor(s) should be a good example: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer (pastor), he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap (1 Timothy 3:1-7 NIV).”

Pastors can only be men (1 Timothy 2:12). Women may be leaders in government (Judges 4), the military, business etc. However, pastors must be men. Some churches have husband/wife teams where both are designated as "pastors." This is, of course, a violation of Scripture.

Fellowship: Active homosexuals and heterosexuals having sex outside of marriage must be excluded from fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Romans 1:24-32). These individuals, if they are unsaved, may be invited to church to hear the gospel—and should be. However, once they become saved, they must abstain from sexual immorality in order to become church members. Others with prohibited lifestyles (Examples: extortioners, revilers) should also be excluded (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Teaching: The sermons should be helpful to you personally. If you’re not learning anything useful, you probably should look for another church.

Church Size: If you're having major problems with anxiety and/or depression, you should probably choose a larger church. This way, you can go to church without socializing more than you want to. Most Christians have not experienced these problems and some will view your behavior negatively if they don't know what is going on. If you do go to a smaller church, talk to the pastor or someone else you trust for help in dealing with this issue. Whereever you go to church, do not avoid anyone no matter how nervous/depressed you are. Otherwise, you will develop big problems very quickly!

Note: Belonging to a church that defies biblical standards is a sin. So is contributing money to such a church. Any willful sin will impede the willingness of God to answer your prayers. And you may not be successful in overcoming your mental health problems.

Here's some resources for selecting a probably good church in your area.

Calvary Chapel.

Southern Baptist Convention.

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Scripture quotations marked "NKJV™" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org).

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.