1. It is important to learn the chain of command in a church. It is your responsibility to find out how conflict is handled. Are the leaders open to hearing your view? Is your view in direct opposition to what the church embraces?
2. Next, are you looking for a church to cater to you only? If you are looking for spiritual help you must understand that they will not say yes and amen to everything you want. If you want to be pampered or spoiled, join a spa. If you pay them enough they’ll do whatever you want. Most successful ministries focus on helping the body corporately and outreach projects. If you require special counseling or prayer it should be an occasional assistance not a daily time consuming event. Remember the needs of any one person or family shouldn’t dominate the entire ministry.
3. Next are you well versed on the doctrine of your belief and does it coincide with the prospective church practices? Knowing what the bible says about major issues helps when choosing a church. If you don’t take the time to learn as much as you can about your faith, don’t get frustrated when you are misled by someone else (church leader or anyone else) who is not informed. Believers must take responsibility and understand it’s your own fault if you allow laziness to hinder you from seeking out information that impacts your spiritual development.
4. Find out how the money is allocated. Are there any missions effort the church supports? Are there community endeavors the ministry contributes to? Many churches that support several outreach projects are less likely to have money being mishandled due to the fact that there are more people overseeing the various bank accounts.
5. Ask who is the mentor, spiritual advisor or leader of your perspective pastor, bishop or Apostle. This is important! Does the pastor take difficult issues in his congregation to a more seasoned leader for advice or does he just fly by the seat of his pants? Does he/she confront things head on or do they just not call or avoid you until you go away? Does the ministry seem to cater to the high financial supporters primarily? These are things to be aware of so be observant. Is everyone treated fairly in the ministry? Or is there any other group considered weaker or less important?
6. Meet with the pastor and inquire about where he went to school. I understand that in years past we relied on the spirit to direct us and that was acceptable because we were limited in educational endeavors but now we should expect the pastor to have had some kind of formal training whether it was a degree in theology or actual hands on work in a senior leadership role. Effective leaders should be a disciplined students of the word.
7. What is the pastor’s family like? Is he or she constantly dealing with marital problems that seem to be the focus of the church? Is their spouse constantly in trouble with the law, drugs, sexual indiscretions that seem to be the six o’clock news in the ministry? Is there a problem with their personal finances where the church frequently has to take up emergency offerings to come to their rescue? This may be an indicator that the leader is a bit distracted with personal problems Each case is different, but it’s something that should be noted when deciding to join a church.
This isn’t all inclusive and again, every case is different. The most important thing is that after all the scrutiny has been completed remember to seek God in prayer to find the ministry that is right for you and your family. Remember that no church, ministry or leader is perfect and even if a ministry has obvious problems, God may have placed you there for a reason. Don’t approach any ministry in a judgmental spirit or believing you hold all the answers. Trust me; it’s easier to make criticisms about a ministry when you are on the outside looking in.
Be encouraged child of the most high God~!
Dr. Denise Joyce Williams lives in Florida with her husband who is a career soldier. Her articles have been featured in CALLED and WOW magazine. Her book entitled, “The Healing Of A Broken Vessel” was released by Publish America in March 2009. The book can be found: http://www.publishamerica.com. She can be reached via her ministry website http://www.thebrokenvessel.com. She’s currently penning her next book entitled “The Chambers Of The Heart”.