Livin' la Vida DOXA
2/10/16 at 01:36 PM 0 Comments

On Choosing a Local Church

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Not too long ago I received an e-mail from a gal in England who had come to know Christ at a retreat at which I preached several years ago. She subsequently joined our (CCI-Brasil) short-term staff and the Lord graciously allowed her to have missions injected into her DNA from the very beginning of her walk with Him. She is serving the Lord faithfully in London, but has found herself in a dilemma, one which I am afraid is not uncommon. She says, “I am at a bit of a transition point at the moment with church and would appreciate your advice. I no longer feel right about the church I have been going to since I got back from missions...They seem to be preaching a self help sort of gospel that hardly mentions sin and sees repentance as simply turning to God and not turning away from sin. It is part of the emergent church movement. Any thoughts would be appreciated...”

Thoughts on choosing a local church? I’m game!

Dear (Sister in Christ),

Concerning your church situation, I believe your thinking is right on track. Some thoughts:

- If it fits into the category of "emergent church" and/or identifies itself that way, then you are right to be leery, and if I only knew that about your church (that it is an "emergent church"), then it would be enough to make me respond that, yes, you should seriously consider finding another local body to fellowship in.
- Your other statement is also very telling: "They seem to be preaching a self help sort of gospel that hardly mentions sin and sees repentance as simply turning to God and not turning away from sin." And it is also enough for me to encourage you to look elsewhere, for a more “biblical-looking” local body.

That more biblical-looking local body should have two very clear, non-negotiable traits:

- It should be doxological in its orientation and motivations. What I mean is that it should very obviously exist "for the praise of God's glory" (Eph. 1). It should be a place where Christ is magnified and glorified and where God's bigness and greatness and goodness and love and grace and mercy are all preached and taught and experienced. A place where God is esteemed as great and people are deemed as small, helpless and hopeless without Christ and in need of salvation through repentence and forgiveness; salvation which ONLY (no exceptions!) comes through the intentional and volitional recognition of the work of Christ on the cross, with the associated repentence and evidenced by the subsequent transformation that the Holy Spirit brings in a person's life. A place where salvation is recognized as being not merely salvation FROM something (hell), but salvation FOR something: worship!; that we might fulfill our eternal vocation as worshippers of the One True God, starting right here and right now. That understanding will be reflected in the preaching, teaching and worship. They will be very theocentric and christocentric with an attitude and emphasis that says "It's all about God. We are all about God. Everything is all about God! God is the main character in redemptive history (it's not about us!). He is the key personality in the Bible. He is the subject of our existence and the focus of our existence and the reason for our existence: that we might live for the praise of His glory in all areas of life and among all peoples of the world." Which leads to the second trait:

- It should be missiological in its understanding and outlook. The word that is vogue right now is "missional", but it tends to be used in a very vague sense of fulfilling God's mission and allows for a "monocultural" interpretation of God's, and our, mission, with no real emphasis on the "cross-cultural" dimension of taking the Gospel to all people groups. In the emergent church movement, "missional" (despite the obvious "outward-looking" and "sending/going" implications of the word) still seems to be used in a self-centered, anthropocentric sense (fulfilling God's mission in ways that are convenient and comfortable and close to home, and/or being focused much too strongly on the plight of humans, especially the ones that are conveniently nearby), often utterly forgetting that 25% of the world has never heard of Christ, and that over 6500 people groups are still unreached! So I use "missiological" ("missionary" would be appropriate as well). It should be a church that understands that in order to truly honor and worship and glorify God, it is not enough for "us" "right here" to live for Christ. Rather we must take (and/or send) the Gospel to "them" "over there" (and in most big cities the "them" [unreached people groups] often DO, conveniently, live right next door!), because our great and glorious God desires and deserves to be known and worshipped among ALL people groups, as well as all segments of society (Ps 96:3-4; Isa. 42:8; Mal. 1:11; Rev. 5:9).

It will not be easy to find a local church that fits this bill because, sadly, there are few of them. But they are out there. And here's a thought. Is it possible that God may be calling you to hook up with other like-minded people to actually plant a church like this? Remember, it's not about buildings and fulltime paid pastoral staff and huge numbers of people all meeting in the same physical location. It's about people who love Jesus, who are "doxological" (the glory of God in all areas of life) and "missiological" (the glory of God among all peoples of the world) gathering regularly (for Bible study, worship, prayer and fellowship) and "going/sending" strategically (to the neighbors and the nations).

I will be praying for you in this endeavor.


I'm João, but you can call me John. Since meeting Christ at age 16, my driving passion has been to glorify Him! I’m a “Great Commission Entrepreneur,” passionate about starting and leading anything — mission agencies, churches, businesses — that helps fulfill the Great Commission. I also love to speak, teach, preach and write about God's glory in all areas of life and among all peoples of the world.

You can contact John at; find out more at; link directly to this blog at; and follow him on:





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