[Monty Casebolt] Nose and Hand were sitting in the church pew talking. The morning service, led by Ear and Mouth, had just ended, and Hand was telling Nose that he and his family had decided to look for a different church.
“Really?” Nose responded to Hand’s news. “Why?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Hand said, looking down. “I guess because the church doesn’t have what Mrs. Hand and I are looking for.”
“Well, what are you looking for in a church?” Nose asked.
Hand had to think before answering. He and Mrs. Hand liked Pastor Mouth and his family. And Minister of Music Ear meant well.
“Well, I guess we’re looking for a place where people are more like us,” Hand stammered. “We tried spending time with the Legs, but we didn’t connect with them. Next we joined the small group for all the Toes. But they kept talking about socks and shoes and odors. And that didn’t interest us.”
In addition to all that, Mrs. Hand knew that their daughter Pinkie was not comfortable with the youth group. Everyone was so different from her, she felt out of joint.
The copyright permission granted by Crossway to quote Pastor Mark Dever’s clever allegory from his book, “What Is A Healthy Church?” leads us into the important question, “What are you looking for in a church?”
God-honoring churches are vital to the well-being of our society and our personal souls. No other institution of the three ordained by God (the family, the government and the local church) is positioned to be “the upholder and foundation of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15) For souls at risk, it is paramount to attend a sound local church where God’s truth is taught, which can set us free from the ruinous forces of the world system, the sinful heart of man and the very real Satan.
Three-time NASCAR cup series champion Darrell Waltrip became a Christian and gave the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast keynote address stating, “If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior … you are going to hell.” This loving warning sprang from the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 10:28: “Fear him (God) who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” God’s “pillar and foundation” of saving truth, the Bible-centered local church, can instruct us in the rescue of our otherwise perishing souls. How wonderful is that?
So, what constitutes a sound local church in God’s eyes?
First, ask if it is scriptural. Is it Bible-based? Are its beliefs aligned with the Bible according to God? This will include belief in the Trinity (One God in three equally-God persons; Father, Son, Holy Spirit); salvation by repentant-trust in God to “save from wrath and make me pure,” as in the hymn, Rock of Ages; rejection of rituals, special services, baptism, Communion, repeated prayers or prayers to saints as supposed aids in the forgiveness of sin (Titus 3:5; Romans 11:6); belief in the inerrant (without error) and infallible (not liable to fail) Bible as the final say in what I believe and how I purpose to behave.
Second, how is its strategy and spirituality? Is it more spiritual than what Scripture allows when it comes to experiencing supposed supernatural manifestations? (I Corinthians 14:37) Is it less spiritual than what Scripture requires when it comes to purposes and programs? (Revelation 3:15-16; James 1:27).
Third, how is its structure? God clearly ordained high-integrity, servant-hearted, male leadership for the local church (I Timothy 2:12; 3:1-2). These men shoulder grave responsibility on judgment day (James 3:1).
And finally, while local churches are not created equal, no one denomination has a monopoly on truth. So don’t pick a local church solely by its denominational label. We want to be most interested in Christianity and not church-ianity.
Martin Luther: “I pray you leave my name alone. Do not call yourselves Lutherans, but Christians.”
John Wesley: “I wish the name Methodist might never be mentioned again, but lost in eternal oblivion.”
Charles Spurgeon: “I say of the Baptist name, let it perish, but let Christ’s name last forever. I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living.”
Song writer, Keith Green (1954-1982) said before a fatal airplane crash ushered him into God’s presence, “When I die, I just want to be remembered as a Christian.”
Does the selection of a local church sound overly exclusive in some ways and exacting in others? Can’t I be a Christian who is pleasing to God while bypassing the matter of faithfully attending a local church?
Let me ask one simple question. How important is our society and your own soul?
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Pastor Monty Casebolt of the Livingston Bible Church]