More than rituals and observations, it is the deepening of our relationship with God and His people that takes precedence in our church attendance selection. With the plethora of churches, leadership styles, and worship philosophies, the decision to choose a church is like deciding what to eat for lunch. Some people like Thai food the way others enjoy “high” church. Just as God grants principles to know His will to help in other life decisions, there are similar principles for “church shopping” that transcend personal preferences and luxury options. Some of these principles include:

1. Revelation 12:17. “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Find a church that worships God and has Jesus Christ at the head of the body. The message of the pulpit should revolve around the message, life, teachings, ministry, and gospel of Jesus Christ. In the context of Revelation, the “testimony of Jesus Christ” not only refers to the “spirit of prophecy” in Revelation 19:10 as the gift of prophecy, but more emphatically the Holy Spirit who inspired individuals throughout history. Prophets not only predicted the future but pointed the people of God back to the commandments of God. These commandments can only be kept by the power, pardon, grace, and Spirit of God. Biblical churches revere the commandments of God, the entire Bible as the foundation of faith, and the Holy Spirit as its interpreter.

2. Luke 4:16. “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”

Find a church that follows the example of Jesus Christ and His apostles. Jesus preached and taught on the Sabbath day. Worshiping and communing with God on the day that He established, and Christ also observed, is imperative for His disciples as well. More than an act of following a rule, it is abiding in the holiness of time that God injected into the fabric of the seventh-day Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

3. 1 Corinthians 12.

Find a church that is mindful of the gifts of the Spirit. Take time to read the entire chapter in 1 Corinthians. More than a church that gathers, performs, worships, and leaves, a spiritually active church is one where the gifts of the Spirit are prayed for, trained, developed, honed, and used. Church is equally a place of in-reach as well as outreach. Moreover, in-reach feeds outreach and outreach feeds in-reach. Church is a place to be trained to share your faith as well as developing it. Church leadership isn’t merely for conducting services, but to lead and mentor in discipleship and “fruit” development “in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim 4:12).

Church was the ultimate social media format before the creation of social media. It intertwined humans’ lives, helping to fulfill real heart needs, manifesting hospitality, providing spiritual encouragement, warning of the world’s dangers, teaching principles from the Bible, and reflecting the mercy of Christ to the inner and outer communities. All this was made by possible by spiritual gifts—not only given to individuals but also to corporate gatherings, also known as the church.

4. 1 Corinthians 13.

Find a church that is mindful of the fruit of the Spirit. After 1 Corinthians 12, read the next chapter all the way through. More important than the activity of the church is the character of the church. As Paul iterates, though we should desire spiritual gifts, the more excellent way is love. Through love in fellowship, accountability, and true spiritual relationships we see the character of Jesus Christ.

Church is much more than a praise and worship session; it is more than outreach and evangelism; it is more than a gathering and a potluck. It is where burdens are borne (Gal. 6:2). It is a place where individuals look out for each other spiritually (Heb. 13:17). It is a place where Christ’s servants serve within His love.

An adage says, “The perfect church does not exist; if it did, it would cease to exist when you joined it.” The reality is that these are ideal principles, and the perfect church indeed does not exist. But some churches yearn to espouse these principles, and perhaps they need your help to become more like Christ in the process. Transcending décor, distance, architecture, type of people, comfort level, children’s programming, or even racial group, may Jesus and His glory reflected in His church be the parameters for your church search.