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Healthy Well-Balanced Churches

I want to address this topic first because of its great important and second because I have received emails from others asking for assistance in finding a church in their areas. While I can give general advice to others located in areas and states that I have never visited, I think that this article will help those in search of a church. First let me say that no church is perfect and all have their strengths and weaknesses like anything in life. However there are healthy churches and there are unhealthy churches. Degree of healthiness and unhealthiness will vary from church to church, but I want to give you some general things to look for when searching for a Healthy Well-Balanced Church in your area. Below are some criteria that must be in a healthy church to some degree. As mentioned earlier, there are no prefect churches, and some churches are healthier than others are but the criteria below is vital to any Healthy Well-Balanced Church.

What to look for when searching for a Church

What to stay away from when looking for a church

 

BOLD BIBLE TEACHING & PREACHING OF GOD'S WORD

 

KJV
2Ti 4:1-4
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Every and all Churches must strongly teach and preach the Bible. I add the Bible in this statement, because I am aware of many churches that preach boldly, but do not preach the Bible. There are a number of Churches in the Seeker Friendly, and Emerging Church movements, that preach the culture and their personnel experience at the expense of scripture. These are churches that you want to stay away from, since obviously you will not grow Spiritually in any church that uses anything other than scripture to teach people. Scripture is the authority for life, faith and practice and must be taught at all times, in all seasons and in all places of life. Boldly preaching and teaching the Bible should be the number one concern of any minister if the Word of God is truly the sword and authority of their lives. The Word should be the authority as the scripture below indicates.

KJV
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

One can often tell if a Church is teaching or preaching the Bible by listening to what is said from the pulpit. If a sermon is dominated with personnel stories, illustrations and experiences, instead of the scripture, then this alone tells you about the authority of that church. Often when I visit churches I listen very carefully to the sermon. If a pastor preaches expositarily, (verse by verse) or preaches on Doctrines than this is usually a good indicator that this church has a good pastor. But if a pastor preaches topical "self-help" and Carnal "felt needs" sermons and rarely uses the scripture, then by this I know that the Bible is not the authority in this pastorís life. There are many churches today that do allot of Topical Preaching on health, wealth, and felt needs. Although there is nothing wrong in itself with these types of sermons but it is not Biblical nor Godly to allow these type of sermons to dominate a church. Often following Christ involves persecution, and God is far far more interest in himself being glorified, over the sinful creation being glorified. People need the Bible, they do not need self-help.

KJV
2Co 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

This verse nor does anywhere in the Bible say that the Christian life will be full of happiness and there will not be persecutions, distresses, nor sufferings. Verses taken OUT OF CONTEXT are usually what these self help pastors focus on. But their messages are unbiblical. People need the Bible, they do not need self-help.

 

SOUL WINNING/EVANGELISM

 

KJV
Act 2:42-47
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

By the passage of scripture above it is made very clear that it was God who added to the Church. I do not want to touch on the very controversial Free Will vs. Predestination debate. All I want to say is that preaching the Bible so that sinners will come to faith in Jesus Christ is very important and a top priority of the Church. Jesus came to find and save the Lost, and so must we. We much reach out to the unbelieving world, and let the Lord do the rest. It is our job to preach repentance, and the Holy Spirit will convict someone of his or her sin.

KJV
Joh 16:8-11
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

I do not know why many of the Contemporary Evangelicals believe that bold Bible Preaching and Teaching are not essential components of a Church. My only guess would be because they are in Biblical ignorance. I have personally visited a number of Emergent and contemporary churches and it never ceases to amaze me in these circles how little preaching and teaching that they do, and how little they think of it. Many of their sermons are carnal based, and almost never touch on Biblical Doctrines. To leaders in this organization Biblical Doctrines are what offend unbelievers. They think this way, because to them its more important to gratify the sinner than it is to gratify the savior.

But does not the Bible clearly say that the sinner will be offended by the gospel message?

 

KJV
1Co 1:18 KJV For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

True authentic soul winning will be churches that preach messages that convict a unbeliever of their sin, so that he or she may receive salvation and eternal life. Jesus came into the world to save the world for eternal separation from God and in Hell. He did not come to save the sinner from meaningless and a unfilled purpose in this life. Many churches do not preach salvation from Hell, but instead they preach Salvation from nothingness in this life. This is not the gospel according to Jesus.

 

DISCIPLESHIP MAKING & FELLOWSHIP

NIV
[Mt 28:18] Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Church Education Ministries/Discipleship should be a foundation to any Healthy Well-Balanced church. People should be taught the scriptures. Every church has their own Philosophy of Church Education Ministries, but I can say from experience and from taking course in Life/Span development and learning that churches that do nothing but PREACH at someone in Sunday school are not exactly practicing the best type of Education. Sure bold preaching should be reserved for the service, it should not be for Church Education/Discipleship programs.

In a good Cognitive Psychology textbook there you should find a term called Elaborative memory Rehearsal. What this means in common sense everyday language is that people will learn better when they actually ENGAGE in the learning experience. Likewise in Howard Hendricks book called Teaching to Change Lives he states that the best students are the ones that come to class prepared and do research and engage in the learning. All too often in a PASSIVE learning experience it is hard to ACTIVELY learn. I once attended a church that saw the many problems with spoon-feeding Church Education/Discipleship Education churches, and ran their Church/Discipleship Education differently than that of MOST Fundamentalist Churches. So in this church we had Bible studies that were designed to ENGAGE the student. In Sunday School we went through the books of the Bible, and were expected to answer the questions in our curriculum which were right from the Bible. Our questions had many times more depth than any contemporary Church that uses the Purpose Driven Life or Purpose Driven Church as a replacement for serious Bible Study. And as a result of this Bible curriculum people in that church knew their Bibles and could replace the Senior Pastor if he needed time off. Discipleship Making was the MAJOR focus of this Small Fundamentalist Church. The church trained successors in their Small Groups and Sunday School Bible curriculum. The teaching Pastor expected the students to answer the questions, and corrected or complimented them if needed. This church was a near perfect fulfillment of this passage of scripture.

KJV
Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Sadly there are many churches that DO NOT prepare the saints for the work of the ministry. They believe that only the PAID or HIRED HANDS should do the ministry. So to their eminence these Churches die away when the professionals go.

 

FELLOWSHIP

KJV
1Jo 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

There are many passages of scripture that speak of fellowship with other believers. The verse above is just one of many. However I think the most important passages are those that speak of the Church as One Body. 1 Cor 12 and Romans 12 are two examples that come to mind. These passages speak about the church being ONE BODY. The church should be one body, but sadly today it is divided into dozens of different denominations and factions. There are denominations within denominations and much division and unfellowship in the church. Its so sad that Satan has had so much influence in the church that many do not know what fellowship is. However a Healthy Well-Balanced Church will understand fellowship, and will love and help one another grow spiritually. Such churches that have Biblical Fellowship may be in the minority, but those that are serious about building themselves up Spiritually should pursue such churches.

 

WORSHIP

ESV
[Jn 4:20] Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." [21] Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. [22] You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. [23] But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. [24] God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

Worshipping God means worshipping Him in all areas of our lives. Worship is not just about the music, the style and the sensationalist experience that so many churches these days obsess over. Many churches spend countless dollars on their Multimedia worship centers, because so many want an experience from God, but few want to REPENT of their sin, and few want to WORSHIP God in Spirit and in Truth. But a Healthy Well- Balanced Church will worship God in Spirit and in Truth. At my old Church as an example, we tried to keep our worship Holy. We only sung old Theological Sound hymns, and rejected any form of Contemporary music infiltrating the Church. All too often is the Theology in the Contemporary sound and lyrics flawed. This is not to say that all contemporary Christian music is bad, but a great majority of it is absent of any kind of Biblical Theology. Churches that want to be healthy will also find music that honors and gives Glory to God. Churches that worship themselves in this area will reject this. I am not trying to say that the people in these churches are unsaved, just in error in this area.

I have visited many contemporary churches that worship their music and not the Bible. One can tell by observing the service. All too often is the preaching in these Emergent churches nothing but carnal self-help messages that are absent of any rich Biblical Exegesis or Theology. People today do not want to listen to academically and intellectually challenging unpractical messages, so there is a great need for practical self-help messages in these type of churches.

Again churches that worship God in a Biblical manor are in the minority, but should be pursued by those that are serious about growing spiritually. We live in a dark day and as already prophesied many churches today are a fulfillment of this particular passage.

NKJV
[2Ti 4:3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;[4] and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Bible driven Christians will seek churches that boldly preach and Teach the Word of God and do not compromise. They will seek churches where the salvation message is taught to unbelievers, they will seek churches that have fellowship with one another and are all about making disciples and building up their members Spiritually in the Lord, and they will seek churches that understand and practice True Spiritual Worship that is worship in Spirit and in Truth.

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