Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church

Holy Hill steeple

I originally posted this late last year, but we’ve had some many requests from people who are looking for a new church home that I’m re-posting to bump it higher:

If you are looking for a new church, you need to ask some very important questions of church leadership before you become a member. Here are 35 to get you started:

 

FOUNDATIONAL BELIEFS

1.   Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit?

2.   Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus?

3.   What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens?

4.   Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy?

 

THEOLOGY

5.   Do you believe in a literal creation account in Genesis?

6.   Does a person have any responsibilities to God upon accepting salvation?

7.   What books other than the bible have you used to develop sermons?

8.   What are your views on “Replacement Theology”?

 

TEACHINGS AND SERVICES

9.   Is your Bible Teaching solely based on the Five Sola’s ?

10.  How important is popular culture in structuring your services?

11.  How do you train and equip your people to carry out the Great Commission?

12.  Does your worship service include people laughing or being slain in the spirit?

13.  Do you preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or do you preach that Christians should never question anointed teachers?

14.  What curricula do your children and teen programs use?

15.  Are you a Willow Creek Association church?

 

DEPTH OF SPIRITUALITY LEADERSHIP

16.   Who are some of your favorite authors? What books other than the bible have influenced your theology or teachings?

17.  To whom are church leaders accountable? Has your leadership ever been questioned by members? How was it addressed?

18.  What growth is more important to our church—growth in numbers or in depth of spiritual commitment of our members? (Only let them pick one, not both !!)

19.  What is the most crucial issue your church has faced and how was it resolved?

20.  How do you determine the spiritual growth of your members?

 

SOCIAL ISSUES

21.  What is meant by the word “Church,” and what is its purpose?

22.  What is the role of the church in social issues or politics?

23.  When do you believe that life begins?

24.  What are the church’s views on marriage and sexuality? Please share scriptures that confirm your beliefs.

25.  How does the church feel about/handle divorce among your members?

26.  What are your views on “contextualization” of the gospel? How important is being “relevant” to the community?

27.  Do you believe that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God; that Yahweh and Allah are the same?

 

MODERN MOVEMENTS WITHIN THE CHURCH

What are your thoughts and the church’s stances on:

28.  Christian Mysticism

29.  The Purpose Driven Church

30.  Spiritual Formation

31.  Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation

32.  Word of Faith

33.  The New Apostolic Reformation

34.  Homosexual Agenda in the Church

35.  The Emergent Church

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18 Responses to Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church

  1. Dan August 3, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I think fruit would have to be looked at to determine what you are dealing with:

    You can have a bible preaching church filled with self righteousness and religion who are inwardly focused, entirely lacking in grace and mercy and love. The idol here is knowledge and they deny the Holy Spirits power.

    You can also have the opposite where you have a building full of non Christians who outwardly appear better than Christians and think pursuing good deeds is the path to salvation. These will stay away from the gospel of Jesus Christ but will use God's word to provoke action from the members as well as guilt. The idol here is works.

    If you go to a church and all the area demographics are represented and they hold up the word of life and the sanctifying work of the holy spirit. Where the elders know God's word and love it and try to walk in obedience to it, knowing it is through obedience that the truth of God's word is opened to us. Where no one thinks himself very much but Christ Jesus and him crucified is their boast. A group whose aim is to die to self as demonstrated by their love for one another and are willing to be held accountable to that standard of selflessness represented by our Savior, who came not to do His own will but the One who sent Him. That group you would want to tie into and not let go. Their banner is Jesus Christ and their lives show it.

  2. mw4tkn August 19, 2013 at 2:59 am #

    Some great questions. Moved to Texas 2 years ago and asked many questions, I think allot of Pastors are like woah who is this guy? Allot of the readers may not know why some of these questions are important.

  3. Buffy August 19, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    This has been the huge dilemma of my life of late. I have been to every church that might have had hope in the area (about 50,000 population). Truly, they are either into seeker sensitive stuff, emergent, mystical stuff, eastern meditation, Beth Moore, Richard Foster on and on it goes! I have left several churches who told me they were not into this or that, only to find out that they were!

    I was in a church which I liked and joined and after assurances from the pastor that they were not into Rick Warren and within a short time, they trotted out the old Purpose Driven Church book and started using “The lingo”. Then I found out that the adult Sunday School teacher got his daily devotions right from Warren’s daily devotions. That pastor got mad at me, so did that teacher.

    I was in another church that I felt okay with because I used to go to it when my children were growing up. I was shocked to hear the pastor try to teach the whole church how to do meditation via Richard Foster! Then the women were doing Beth Moore stuff and then moved on to Joyce Meyer. When I came to talk to the pastor with an armload of material on Foster, he got mad when I mentioned Rick Warren in a negative way. It was like that whole church was under a trance. When I tried to talk to the women about Moore and Meyer, their answer was to remove me from their email list! I have since run into some of them around town and some (not all) would not even speak to me when I was a matter of inches from them!

    I had gotten to a point of having a long list of “pastor questions” and I am sure this was a pain for the pastors I talked to. Many had not a clue why I had trouble with Rick Warren! When I asked them if they would read a book about him…nope! Now I am the lay person in this deal, why don’t they have the answers?

    Then I read stuff by people who sit in judgment because others don’t have a church. They use stuff like the old rag, ”If you find a perfect church, don’t join it, because you will ruin it”. First off, I do not expect, nor look for perfection, but being free of false teachers should not be too much to ask! Why am I the trouble maker when I want to hear Bible and not feel good platitudes? Why am I ruining things when I want to sing hymns filled with wonderful doctrine, instead of mindless praise songs that belong at church camp campfires at best? Some of these praise songs have refrains that are sung over and over and over until I just can’t stand it anymore and stop singing. Have any of you ever noticed that many of the modern praise songs take the focus off from what the Lord has done for us and puts it onto what WE are doing to praise Him and how long WE will praise him.

    Grouchy old woman? Maybe, but I just want to worship an awesome God in a way that glories Him, not man. I want to hear God’s Word in church, not man’s, I want to sing Hymns that glorify Him and what he has done to save us. Anything less is not really worshipping Him, in my opinion! I drive way out into the country now and have found a lovely small country church that seems to love the Lord, preach the Bible, sing hymns and welcome those who want the same. I am happy to be able to have that, but sad that I am surrounded by churches that I don’t feel safe to attend. I am sad that I have to drive that far to go to a safe church.

    • Marsha R. August 22, 2013 at 6:05 am #

      Buffy, remember what Jesus said…..His true disciples will be persecuted! Matthew 7:14 says "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." We are the few who find it. God's Spirit is within all of us that are feeling the exact same way. We are fed up with these churches of today that are NOT being the churches as Jesus commanded. In fact, when we attend, we feel a part of something that is almost "evil" if you will and the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us tells us that we cannot be a part of the heresy taking place! Maybe it would be alright if God could use us in a church where we could speak His Truth and changes would take place. However, the apostasy is so widespread that I'm beginning to believe that we, as true Christians, are being called OUT OF THE CHURCH. Perhaps soon, we will be creating underground churches? I believe that's where it's heading. I am, personally, worshipping God from my home and know of many other mature Christian believers that are doing the same. They believe that God has called them out of the church as well. It's no coincidence that we are ALL feeling this way. I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in us and God is paving the way for His will to be done. Right now, we just don't know what that is at the moment. However, I believe the Lord Jesus is coming very SOON! Praise God. 🙂

  4. Julia P August 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Buffy , wow thanks for sharing!!

    Lately, I can relate…

  5. SammiD August 20, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Right on Buffy!
    I will not andI have not attended church for years because every church in my area is like the ones you described! I am a Christian and I worship God in my home.
    What else can we do?

  6. Randy White August 20, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    You have a great list, but as a Pastor, I can tell you that Pastors will give you the answer you want. These questions need to be reworded to get the "real" answer. I've given a rework of the first 4 questions.

    1. Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit? Change this to: "How do you hear from God?" If they say "The Bible and only the Bible," you've got a winner. If they say "the Bible, circumstances, other people…" go ahead and end the interview.

    2. Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus? Change this to: "What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel, are they saved?" While this is a tough question, it gives insight into the Pastor's insistence that Jesus is the only way.

    3. What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens? Change to: "What are some things the church can do to expand the Kingdom of God to usher Christ's return?" If he gives any answer other than "nothing," then move on.

    4. Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy? Change to: "It seems like many things in the Middle East are a fulfillment of prophecy, or perhaps they are the result of some bad political decisions after WWII. Do you have some thoughts on this?" His answer will reveal whether or not he thinks there is a fulfillment of prophetic events.

    Bottom line: don't give your answer then ask your question, because the Pastor will likely tell you what you want to hear. This may even be subconscious. Craft questions that force the Pastor to give an answer without knowing your position. Be careful not to respond too much to each question, or he will know your position by the end of the interview.

    I am a Pastor, and I love it when people dig into my theology. I want a good fit between me and my church members, and when they ask questions, I can begin to know whether this will work or not.

  7. SLIMJIM August 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    As a pastor I welcome these questions!

  8. John Kespert May 28, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    When I clicked on the link in question 9, instead of taking me to a website describing the 5 SOLAs, it brought me to the Sola Sisters website and a page not related to that topic.. You might want to fix that so it goes perhaps to the page at Christianity Com that explains the five Solas.

    • standupwi May 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

      Will do, John. Thanks for alerting me.

  9. Cherie c. May 28, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    DEPTH OF SPIRITUALITY LEADERSHIP

    One very important question, and I direct it towards you who have said you are Pastors, and I am sad that it wasn't on the original list. Leonard Ravenhill would be very sad indeed that this vital question was not included. In fact, he said it

    What is your prayer life like Pastor?

    Leonard Ravenhill quotes:

    “No man is greater than his prayer life.

    The pastor who is not praying is playing

    The last quote will convict the pastor of a church. He will either react with anger, or will humbly answer the question honestly. A reaction of anger is what you will mostly see. Why? Because most pastors have developed this " I have arrived" attitude, which is pride, but few repent of it. So when they feel convicted they react with anger instead of remorse because some; many, don't think they need prayer anymore. And if you question them you are abased. Prayer is something I would ask about.

    your sister in Christ Jesus

  10. victoriadiagnello November 21, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Buffy (and the rest),

    I totally relate! I live in a large metro area in So. Ca. by the border and there are churches on every block. But, I can't find one either that isn't into all of the things you listed! We are called to 'come out from among them,' that is the correct thing to do. WE are the church, not them and their apostasy and their four walls. I would love to fellowship with people like us, I just can't find any. More on that later. Underground is definitely the way to go. I agree about worship, it's all entertainment rock concert material nowadays. I love praise songs, but that focus on the attributes of God, 'you are holy, glory to you,' etc. and of course doctrine. Now the focus is on 'me, and what I doing for God' instead of what God has done for us.

    cont.

  11. victoriadiagnello November 21, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    I agree too, when it comes to questions, most will tell you what they think you want to hear. Remember… seeker sensitive! I have seen church statement of beliefs that were totally orthodox, they pretend to be 'all that' biblically, but they deceive. YOU have to do the research. Here's what I learned:

    Despite the fact that they advertised all these things (or I wouldn't even have bothered going there), I discovered nothing could have been further from the truth. Here's how you can research them:

    1. Go to the website. Look for emergent key words: transform, revolution, change the world, purpose, 'disciple or follower' instead of Christian, etc. Some sites give key word lists to look for.
    Go to the ministries section, look under 'women's ministries' and see if they use Beth Moore's books.
    Go to the links and see what organizations they associate with. Check out their events, conferences, retreats, speakers, etc. and all the links you can to research.

    If it still looks okay or doesn't have much info., pay it a visit. Then…

  12. victoriadiagnello November 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    2. Scrutinize the sermon and the announcements, the music, etc. Ask a few people what the church's view is on any of that stuff, such as Rick Warren, contemplative, ecumenism (any form), etc.

    3. Be on guard for anything that resembles an attitude of 'us bringing in God's Kingdom,' instead of Jesus. That is dominionism and leads to the NWO antichrist one world religion, etc. They are all on this turnip truck. None of them believe in the end times prophesies. Watch too for an emphasis on 'revival' instead of apostasy, warning about watchers and discerners instead of wolves and heresies.

    4. Check out all the materials they put out, church bulletins, newsletters, etc. and any posters they have hanging around and events they advertise. You can uncover much by a simple visit.

    Usually by then I discovered the truth of their involvement in the apostasy and didn't return. I warned as many as I could in different ways in the process too.

    Cont.

  13. victoriadiagnello November 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    I even ran into discernment aware people who refuse to come out of the apostate churches. When I warned them gently, I got all these rebukes about not touching [satan's] anointed, etc. I replied with all the biblical mandates to refute false teaching/teachers, and never heard back. They continue to go to these churches. I began to wonder if that is what puts them under the strong delusion. They may even know about the apostasy, but if they don't obey the command to 'come out of her,' and they remain, they will fall under the dense fog of the strong delusion, stay, and get deceived more and who knows where it will end. We must not only know truth, but obey it. We are all in the same situation here.

    God bless you my brothers and sisters!
    I will be announcing an ad to form a home church network in my area before and after the holidays on certain online advertising sites. I will be screening replies very carefully for those who would seek to join from unsaved sectors with alterior motives.
    If you live around here and are in this situation, please consider it and pray about this.

  14. Rose December 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    My name is Rose Cross. I am 67 years old. I do not attend any church services, because I am having problems finding a church that worships in spirit and in truth. I live in Hueytown, AL. One of my major problems is that I no longer celebrate Christmas. I have studied this subject for more than 20 years – always at the holiday season – because I just felt uncomfortable about celebrating the holiday. Two years ago I began a deeper study. Through my studies I have determined that the holiday is pagan and that I should not celebrate it. I have observed "Christians" during this holiday, and have witnessed very little celebration of Christ. Many Scriptures and much prayer has led me to determine that it is not a Christian holiday. I am not trying to tell anyone here how to celebrate the holiday; I am just stating where I personally am on this subject. Most of the 'churches' in my area celebrate Christmas. That's just ONE of the problems I have with the local congregations. One congregation teaches yoga classes; another celebrates the 4th of July within the church on Sunday morning; another celebrates Halloween using a witch's cauldron; one collects money through sales outside local grocery stores; one had a special 'bikers' Sunday; one had a 'youth group outing' on a Saturday night and because they had stayed out late, were excused from attending Sunday worship services the following morning.

    I sincerely apologize if I sound condescending and pious. I assure you, I am not. I feel (as Paul said) that I am chief among sinners. My sins are many and deplorable. I have been married four times – yes, four! I believe that I was saved during my last marriage. My husband divorced me, and I have refrained from the 'dating life' – knowing that I would not be following the teaching of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    I miss not being a part of a local church – singing, hearing the Word preached in Spirit and in Truth, participating in the Lord's Supper, sharing with my Christian brothers and sisters, not openly and gloriously worshiping Almighty GOD.

    Can anyone here help me? Please.

  15. Leigh July 21, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    Thanks for bumping this, it’s great. I hope to be able to convince our elders that a similar questionnaire needs to be used for prospective teachers in our church. I am so tired of being in women’s classes and being told that I am an immature Christian if I admit to not having heard the voice of Jesus because “my sheep hear my voice” and other such nonsense. I am sick of hearing “God told me…” from teachers both male and female. Is it too much to ask that we just hear, “It is written” like Jesus taught? Sorry, I’m ranting.

    One aside, in one of the oldest comments you had linked something that was teaching that testing a person’s fruits wasn’t really good works like most people think. That link is now dead since Pirate Christian Radio has redone their website. Is there another way to find that?

    Thank you!

  16. Karen July 22, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    What a relief it is to read through these comments! I thought I was one of only a few Christians who was having a very difficult time finding a church that still taught the Word of God as it is written; preached the Rapture and the second coming of our Savior and sung hymns that were understandable. Every church where I live has fallen into unspeakable apostasy. They don’t sing Christian songs – they scream them while waving flags and skipping around the church while the “Pastor” jumps and skips in bare feet. Then I thought I found the church I had been looking for. You know the traditional organ/piano church service; a morning and evening Sunday service and a Tuesday evening prayer service. Yipee, I thought! Imagine how I felt when, after several months (and professing my faith/baptism/testimony to this small congregation of 12) I sat in the chair for communion one Sunday morning and they passed me by. Then I went to put my offering in the plate – they passed me by. Why? They said I cannot participate in communion until I wear a hat. Yup. They are fundamental brethren who do not allow women to pray in church, nor to speak and they have a dress code women must follow. I can come as a guest, but cannot participate in the Lords supper. I was heart broken. I too have given up trying to find a true church here, and so I participate in church services in live streams on Sundays via the internet and I take communion alone. I cry for what’s happened to churches today.

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