Questions To Ask Before Joining A Church

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by TinMan, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. TinMan

    TinMan
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    Hi,

    I am new to this site but have a complicated question that I would like your sound Biblical input on.

    I have seen it happen time and time again where somebody will join a church after visitiving for a short period and just looking over the Statement of Faith. Within a year after joining they find themselves in a predicament because they did not "prove all things" first.

    I find myself in the position of finding God's will for what local church I should join. I have compiled a list of "questions to ask before joining a church". I did this as I was not able to find a book or article that specifically addresses this issue in depth. As I know not every church will agree with me in every aspect, I am trying to widdle down my questions to things that would be "essentials".

    Below are "some" of the issues on my list of questions that go beyond most Statment of Faiths.

    Doctrine
    KJV Only
    Baptism(s)
    Rapture
    Dispensations
    Second Coming
    Creation
    Tongues
    Healings
    Marriage / Divorce / Remarriage
    Lord's Supper
    Millennium
    Tribulation
    Judgment Seat of Christ
    White Throne Judgment
    Tithing vesus Giving
    Trinity
    MT AC HEB
    Literal vs. Figurative
    Israel / Jew
    Typology
    Greek and Hebrew definitions
    OT versus NT Salvation
    Prayer
    Missions
    Public Ministry
    Evangilism
    Discipleship
    Music
    Bible Conferences / Retreats
    Youth group
    Modest Dress
    Movies / TV
    Family Structure
    Home Schooling vs. Public Schools
    Contemporary Christian Movement
    Church is primarily for Saved vs. Lost
    Bible Colleges
    Compromise
    Baptist Heritage
    Marketing gimmicks
    How Pastor prepares his sermons
    Pastor's library of books and tapes
    Pastor's wife
    Pastor's family
    Meat not just milk
    Deacons
    Business Meetings / Boards / Comittees

    I've also started a verse list to see what a church believes:
    GE 1:1-2
    AC 2:38
    EPH 4:11-12
    II TI 2:15
    II TI 3:16-17
    JAM 2:17,24
    JOH 8:44
    I JO 3:12
    GE 3
    I JO 2:15-16
    ISA 14
    EZE 28


    Does anybody:
    * Know of a book or article that addresses this issue?
    * Have a "list" of their own? (created out of neccessity)

    :D Any input would be much appreciated. :thumbsup:


    Steve
     
  2. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    Looks pretty comprehensive to me.
    I might ask, (since I don't recall as I write this) are there any questions concerning what they think of Jesus? The Holy Spirit? The Father?
     
  3. TinMan

    TinMan
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    av1611jim,

    Good key issue... the Father, Son, Holy Spirit issue is usually covered in the generic Statement of Faith. That is why I did not address it in my list.

    Thanks for you input :)
     
  4. Joseph_Botwinick

    Joseph_Botwinick
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    I would probably ask for the pastor to explain verse by verse Romans 9.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  5. StefanM

    StefanM
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    Are you trying to find a church with which you agree on all of these issues 100%?

    If so, start a house church, lol!
     
  6. MRCoon

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    It seems that you should be asking for a copy of their Constitution as well. Most of these questions should be covered in the Church Constitution and/or Statement of Faith or another similiar document.

    My church has made it pretty straight forward...check it out here.
     
  7. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    I know I will repent of this in a few moments, but here's my response:

    Honestly, if those are "some" of your questions, please don't come join our church. You sound like one of those people who are going to be constantly critiquing the pastors message, the SS teachers lesson, the hymns that were chosen, the pastor's children's behavior, pastor's wife's involvement. So stay away!

    I hope you'll find a church... then I hope they turn you down for membership because you're not thorough enough.
     
  8. SeekingTruth

    SeekingTruth
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    Tom. your response to the OP is offensive. Do you think that the words of a pastor, SS teacher, etc. are inerrant? Do you really believe that visitors, prospective members, current members. or posters to this board should not ask any and all questions on their heart of a church or its pastor? If so, you are either arrogant or grossly mis-informed.


    You say you "will repent of this in a few moments". Shame on you. You admit you posted a reply that you knew was wrong. That sir, I submit, is a serious error on your part. I am glad that I do not belong to your church.:tear:
     
  9. Tom Bryant

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    I am sorry that you found it offensive, and me either arrogant or grossly mis-informed.

    No, I dont believe that anyone's words except the Word of God are inerrant. But take a look at the original list: He's going to look at my library, my tapes and any and everything else.

    Any person who walks into a church with a large grocery list of issues that has to be addressed before that church gets the privilege of his membership has probably been a pain in every other church they have been at.
     
  10. tinytim

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    Don't worry, I don't think there is a church in this world that would pass this list 100% . There has to be something on there that the OP would disagree with in any church....

    I'd like to ask, what % of the list would have to answered affirmative before the candidate for membership would be satisfied to join?

    And should the church also make a list for possible candidates?

    like:
    Tithing records,
    bank accounts,
    books in your home,
    TV shows your kids are allowed to watch,
    age at which your teens are allowed to date,
    Are all your bills paid on time?,
    do you drink wine (I just had to throw that in, lol)
    Your hobbies,
    favorite restaurants, do they serve wine?
    Where do you buy groceries... do they sell alcohol?
    Do you allow your children to participate in extra curricular activities that may hinder them from attending every service of the church?
    How do you feel about women? pants, long hair, head coverings?
    Is missing a service considered a sin?
    If so, which service is the greater sin?
    Have you been guilty of gossip?
    Which is the greater sin, homosexuality or gossip?
    describe your last pastor in detail
    was he ever wrong?
    What would you change about your last church?
    Do your kids wear suits and ties to church? school?
    Would you be willing to serve in any capacity?

    but the most important question:
    What is the HOLY SPIRIT telling you to do?
     
    #10 tinytim, Sep 6, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2006
  11. Revmitchell

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    We dont need to be in a hurry to join a church. Most of these questions can be answered by time. Give a particualr church a year or more if that is what you need. Make an appointment with the Pastor. Give him a list of questions you have for him in advance so he may keep them in prayer as well as your meeting with him. Get to know the people. Participate in as much as you can. Get a copy of any statement of faith, constitution and by laws and any other policies. The pastor should be helpful if you are considering joining.

    In your attempt to be thorough it can be perceived that your are being judgemental. Make sure you are loving the people as much as seeking answers.

    God Bless You:thumbs:
     
  12. Don

    Don
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    Being in the military, and on our fifth base since we were saved, I consider myself somewhat of an "expert" (if there's actually such a thing) on this subject.

    In my personal, be-it-ever-so-humble opinion, your list is too long. Try majoring on the majors, and minoring on the minors. There's so much you can learn by just watching and interacting with the congregation.

    For example, I heard a pastor preach from the pulpit that numbers were inconsequential; however, there was a board on the back wall of the santuary that clearly listed attendance, number of baptisms, number of professions of faith, etc. And one of the deacons, when it was his turn to make announcements, made it a point to identify how many people went out on visitation on Thursday night, how many attended the prision ministry meeting, etc. In other words, the pastor may not have "emphasized" numbers when he spoke, but somehow he had instilled a culture focused on statistics in his congregation.

    Another pastor I was associated with for a brief time was focused on money. He told me that one of the church members had complained about him always preaching about tithing every Sunday. Then he looked at me triumphantly and said, "I pulled out all my sermon notes for the last year, and never once did I do a sermon about tithing or money." No, he never did a sermon specifically about tithing or money, but he managed to mention them in every sermon he preached.

    Another church we visited, the teen Sunday School teacher did a trivia quiz. My daughter, a first-time visitor, answered three questions in a row (good on her, 'cause the Lord knows she's doing well in spite of her parents!), and was subsequently belittled by a young man in the class. The Sunday School teacher didn't say anything to the young man, and didn't correct the situation in any way. Turns out the young man was the son of one of the "high-ranking members" of the church.

    So my advice is, it's nice you have a list, but don't use a list. You know what the major points are; are the pastor and the congregation reflecting that? What did your wife and/your kids notice?

    But the most important piece of advice given so far was: "What is the Holy Spirit telling you to do?"
     
  13. kjv1611

    kjv1611
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    My Dear Friend

    It reads to me as if you are a Bible Believer, so much of what you read here will oppose your question. The Holy Spirit will bear witness to everything you have mentioned in just a few services. As you are well aware it doesn't take long before there is a GLARING difference to what you have read in your Bible and the falsehood being taught today. Attend for a month, as an example when the pews are PACKED for a Music festival on a special day and there are 3 people on visitation the same week and the Pastor is not one of them that's usually a good indication to keep searching. A never fail test is when you talk of public ministry and the reply is "I have seen the Da Vinci code" or "I took my friend to watch the Passion of Christ." May Our Lord Jesus Christ Richly Bless You.

    BTW you will be hard pressed to find a handful of people online that you can discuss your topics with but thanks God for you and STAY in the BOOK
     
  14. TinMan

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    I'd like to thank everyone for their input (of all kinds). :wavey:
    The various perspectives presented help me look at and critique my current view of this issue. I like the "different" positions posted as I am forced to consider them and fine tune my view, if necessary by the truth revealed.

    I will try to address some of your postings individually. As you were kind enough to voice your opinion, it would be unfair for me not to let you know my thoughts. By doing this, you and others may understand my motive and direction on this issue more clearly (many times "communication" is some what blind in a message board environment where voice tone and body language are not conveyed).

    StefanM:
    I know that no church will agree with everything I currently believe on every issue. I myself do not agree with what I believed 5 years ago. I do believe it is wise to discover what a church believes on "key" issues. Even if there is a difference, it is good to understand "why" they believe what they believe. A church's attitude can also be detected when discussing doctrinal beliefs (anybody can smile and shake your hand). I am currently not equipped to be a pastor in my opinion. If God saw fit to mold (and hammer, lol) me into someone to hold such an office, that would be His decision to make.

    MRCoon:
    Thanks for you link to your "Articles of Faith". It is more detailed than what most churches have available "in writing". I have been in and seen some churches try to develop a constitution... it seems that it gets to a point where they have to just revert to the simple answer of "we believe the book... cover to cover". I agree with and like that statement. However, it goes back to what they believe and how they practice what's in the Bible. My goal is to turn over just enough rocks to make sure that there aren't any snakes (key issues) that'll bite me down the road (worms under the rocks I can work with, lol).

    Tom Bryant:
    Thanks for your input. I am very analytical in my thinking. And yes I do critique messages, words of hymns, the "fruit" of a pastor, etc (I also like people to critique and ask questioning about what I say-teach-preach). If I do have a "problem" with something said / teached / preached, I go to that individual alone for clarification and then open up the Bible if there is a real disagreement (and yes, at the conclusion some times I find out they were perfectly correct). I, as well as others, have been burnt too many times blindly following what other people say versus following what the Bible says. Regarding your 2nd post, I would like to look at a pastor's library (book, tapes, etc.). It would tell me much about what the man believed. Paul said, "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:" I pastor's life should be an open book, not that some of the pages aren't dirty (I know some of mine are). I also offer to anybody at a church I would consider joining to look at my library, tapes, etc. so they could look at me as much as they cared to.
    ***** Tom, in short I guess I take the commitment of joining a church almost as serious as finding a wife. I want it to be for life. I hope this helps you understand my reasoning a little more clearly. *****

    tinytim:
    First to answer your question: My "list" is just a work in progress. I have not determined what are "deal breakers". Determining on the circumstances, I may be led to ask more or less questions out (there is no exact science to this issue). I must be trusting God throughout this but I must also be prepared on my end ["
    The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD."].
    Secondly: I really appreciate you comments. Gave me a new idea I hadn't considered :) As a church may be shocked with the thoroughness of my questions (over time), it may be more easily received if I first provided them with the background of my testimony, my beliefs, my history in ministry, people they could call and ask about me, former pastors, etc. [almost like a resume, for lack of a better term]. This honesty up front on my behalf, might set them at ease about the questions I have of them.

    Revmitchell:
    Very sound advice. I can add nothing to, nor take away from you have wisely stated.

    Don:
    Good comments on "learning by observing". The walk of the church must be looked at just as much as the talk of the church. I also agree with the counsel obtained from wife and children. I have never been married, so I can't benefit from the special perspective God has given to women. Right now, it's just me, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit (which should be all I truly need).

    kjv1611:
    Thanks for the words of encouragement. Glaring differences are apparent to me as you have spoken, the more subtle ones take more time to surface. The mention of public ministry definitely can ruffle feathers, lol. I noticed that you're in Missouri, thought I'd mention that Vince Massa :thumbsup: (a preacher's preacher) will be in Independence, MO this Fri 8th, Sat 9th, Sun 10th Sept. If you or anybody is interested in more information send me a private-message or e-mail. I have an "email flyer" with all details.
     
  15. Tom Bryant

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    I understand better... But my wife and I dated for 3 years before marriage. I learned more about her on our honeymoon than I did in 3 years.

    About looking in the pastor's library, I have books whose authors I disagree with. I have learned more from them than from the books I have agreed with.

    Paul's statement said exactly the opposite. His statement was that his library was the lives of people. The best read of a church and a pastor is what the people are like, especially if he's been there for more than 7 years.
     
  16. StefanM

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    No kidding! I would hope a prospect wouldn't judge me by books I have but don't agree with everything within their pages. Yikes...if they judged me by my Phyllis Trible and Greg Boyd books, they'd think I'm a open theist liberal!
     
  17. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    EEK!
    My goodness, I agree.
    I have in my library, "'Srimad Bhagavatam" (sixth canto -part one) by 'His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada', and 'New Age Bible Interpretation, New Testament vol.IV parts I-II-III" and the Pearl of Graet Price, Doctrine and Covenants, BoM, New World Translation, among others!

    Like you, I keep them for reference. Not for "faith and practice".:thumbs:
     
  18. Brother Bob

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    lol, :laugh:
     
  19. Brother Randall

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    Tinman,

    You'll be hard pressed to find a church that is in alignment with HALF of the items on your list. I agree with the prior suggestion to attend and observe to get a feel for how things are.

    Search the church website for a beliefs page and pick up whatever literature, newsletter or handouts they offer to gain insight into the church, congregation and staff. Attend bible study and talk with people. Do that for about a month or so and you should have enough to make a decision. :wavey:
     

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