Good Church Choices
by Sandy Simpson, 2003
This page contains some recommendations on how to find a good church. What you need to find is a church that not only has orthodox doctrinal statements but teaches, both explicitly and implicitly, in line with the core doctrines of the Faith. These are Bible-believing Christ-centered churches that are balanced in their theology. Be sure to test all churches before you become involved. Here are some tips for finding a good church:
Find a church that is Bible-believing and Christ-centered -- that is a church that considers the Bible to be the highest authority in all matters of Faith and practice instead of new revelation, and the main focus is on Christ and not the Holy Spirit, Who Himself focuses our worship and attention on Jesus. Write an email or call the pastor of the church you want to check and ask him for his doctrinal statement. Be aware, however, that though a church says they hold to a good doctrinal statement they may be teaching and doing things that are against it. Some actually use a good doctrinal statement as bait to suck you in. A good doctrinal statement will contain, but not necessarily be limited to, the five core doctrines. You should also ask him what his position is on the Toronto Blessing, Brownsville, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Todd Bentley, Church Growth, Emerging Church, the Third Wave/New Apostolic Reformation. If you are given any response other than that his church rejects and stands against those teachers and teachings, then don't bother with that church. Find a smaller church that has not gotten into any wacky stuff, or a good home bible study, not cell group. Get into the written Word and pray. Seek out someone who can help you who is a mature Christian. Be careful of most Pentecostal denominations today because many are compromised, but there are still a few who hold to orthodox doctrines.
Stay away from United Pentecostals, International Church of Christ, Brownsville, Vineyards. They are apostate.
Some denominations to check for good churches would be Calvary Chapel, North American Baptist, Congregational Christian Churches (CCCC), Conservative Baptist, some Southern Baptist, and some independent or non-denominational churches. But be sure to test each individual church because even some of the denominations mentioned above are compromised.
Be sure they are not into the C. Peter Wagner organizations like the New Apostolic Reformation, Mission America, Lighthouse, cell church, etc. Stay away from mega churches, particularly those that are using the "Church Growth" models of Bill Hybels/Willow Creek, Robert Schuller, Rick Warren and C. Peter Wagner. Don't get involved in churches that are teaching Emerging Church ideas.
Finding a good church can be daunting in some areas because so many churches are compromised these days. Some are open and up front about being involved in the Third Wave, but be aware that many will be deceptive about their level of involvement. Still others don't realize they are already accepting many of those false doctrines. Stay away from churches that play Vineyard and Hillsong music constantly with songs that talk about a great end times revival, the "river", kingdom now or treat the Holy Spirit like a pantheistic force. Stay away from those that urge people to pray the prayer of Jabez, support Promise Keepers, have Healing Rooms, use Cleansing Stream, do Theopostic counseling, etc. Stay away from churches that are hyper-Calvinist, hyper-Arminian, teach Preterism/Amilennialism, Postmillennialism and/or Dominionism, do infant baptism or teach baptismal regeneration, churches that teach that you need a second blessing which they identify as the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit (because the baptism of the Spirit happens when a person is born again. There can and should be subsequent fillings of the Spirit however), churches that emphasize some activity they claim is to be a normative Christian experience such as snake handling, passing around handkerchiefs for healing, drinking poison, being drunk in the spirit, doing slain in the spirit which is not biblical, or anything else that amounts to Christian magic because it has been pulled from its context in Acts or the Old Testament. We have articles on all these phenomenon in churches today.
You do need fellowship, but be sure that fellowship is with true believers, not heretics. Here are a few other articles you might find helpful on finding a good church:
If you live in Australia, here is a good church list from CWM: