Church buildings are plentiful in our country. Locating one may be easy, but wisely deciding which to join involves more effort. God's Word gives us some specific instructions in this matter.
First, let's explore the original biblical meaning of the word "church." The termecclesia meant a group of people who are called out of the world's system by God's grace for the purpose of assembling to worship and serve Christ. Ephesians 5:29-30 further specifies that believers are the body and Jesus is the head of such a fellowship. Under His leadership, we can enjoy the unity and purpose that He intended.
God's design for this sacred gathering involves worship, instruction, encouragement, evangelism, and ministry to those in need, both within the fellowship and outside its walls. A healthy, vibrant congregation is possible only when members rely fully on the Holy Spirit's guidance. The work of the church is to be done in His power, in humble, prayerful submission to the Lord.
To help you determine whether a church is following the design laid out in Scripture, here are some important questions to ask: Do they believe God's Word is infallible and inerrant? Is the church disciplining her people? Does the fellowship have some kind of missionary or evangelistic program?
Joining a congregation is an important decision, as a fellowship of believers is one tool God uses to mature and encourage His children. Those three questions can be helpful in discerning God's will. Listen for His Spirit to warn or direct as you prayerfully investigate your options.