The Main Thing to Look for in a Church

Church-goers often look for a variety of things in a church: friendships, activities, programs, music, engaging worship services, attractive buildings, etc. These are good things to look for but they’re not the main thing that the church is supposed to be all about. The main thing that should permeate the life and ministry of the church is the Bible: teaching the Bible, worshiping God according to the Bible, living out the teachings of the Bible, and spreading the message of the Bible. Let’s look at each of these facets of the central place of the Bible in the life of the church:

1. Teaching the Bible

The local church should be a place where you go to learn about the Bible. In the New Testament the church is called “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). God gave the Bible for the purpose of teaching (2 Timothy 3:16). Pastors are called to “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). The Bible should not be merely a relic or decoration in the church, but the textbook, guidebook, prayer-book, songbook, playbook, and leadership book in the life of the church.

2. Worshiping God according to the Bible

While the church is called to teach the Bible, it is more than just a teaching institution; it is also a worshiping community. But the worship gatherings of the church should be based on and reflect the teachings of the Bible. For example, the songs that are sung in the worship services should communicate Christian truth: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

3. Living out the Teachings of the Bible

The truth that we learn in church is supposed to work itself out in our lives: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

4. Spreading the Message of the Bible

The most important thing in the Bible is the gospel, or good news, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Christians are called to “preach the gospel to every creature” and to “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

So, it would be great if we could have it all: strong Bible teaching and friendships, activities, programs, music, engaging worship services, and attractive buildings. But nothing else is as important as the Bible.