Bible Studies/2 questions
QUESTION: Teacher Scott,
I bet you can't guess who? One at a time, though. Ok first, We are moving in a few days. I need to know what to look for in a new church.
Also, I'd like to know the difference in the churches. If there is a difference, between the First Baptist, Holiness Baptist, Calvary Baptist... Is there a difference in all of them?
ANSWER: Hi Joyce!
It's nice to hear from you again!
What to look for in a church? Good question.
That can be a little tough. First, it should be an evangelical church. Second, they should accept and embrace the Bible as the only authority for what they believe and practice. Third, they should embrace the "fundamentals" of the faith, such as belief that Jesus is both God and man, born of a virgin, the resurrection of Christ, the need for a personal conversion by grace through faith alone, etc. See http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/fivefundementals.pdf
If you're considering a church, speak to the pastor or someone who can help you with the appropriate information. Ask them for a Statement of Faith. Ask them where they stand on the need to be born again (see John 3:1-21).
There are many denominations, each with their own little twists on certain points of doctrine. Some are minor, some major. Many adhere to the fundamentals but may differ on certain minor issues.
Take, for example, the Baptist denomination. There are Holiness Baptists, which have adopted certain teachings of the Pentecostal movement (example, speaking in tongues). There are the American Baptists (somewhat liberal), the Southern Baptists, and Independent Baptists. (I grew up in an Independent Baptist church and found them to be strong on most all points of doctrine and very enthusiastic about carrying out The Great Commission. However, there was a tendency towards legalism--i.e., outward standards used as a measure of spirituality. But some have gotten away from that, which is good, in my opinion.)
Do some research. Visit some churches. Ask questions. Feel free to come back to me for some guidance, if you like. Ultimately, you want a church that is faithful in teaching, discipling, evangelizing, shepherding, where you feel comfortable and challenged, and where you can grow, serve, worship, and fit in as part of the family.
If you look through my archives, you will find a few other blogs that deal with the same topic of How to Choose a Good Church.
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QUESTION: what do you mean by evangelical?
"Evangelical" means that they embrace and promote the gospel, that they believe each person must be "born again," according to Christ's words in John 3. "Born again" means a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that acknowledges one's sinfulness and condemnation, realizes he cannot save himself, and relies solely on the free gift of salvation made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (See Romans 10:9-13, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5.)
Believe it or not, as clear as this message is in the Bible, many so-called Christians do not understand or accept it, nor have they personalized it.