Questions to Ask Before Joining a Church

The transition to a new church is difficult, so you’ll want to make a good decision rather than having to start over a year later.  Going beyond attending a worship service and reading the web site will help you avoid making a mistake.  Take the process slowly and give careful consideration to your motives for switching congregations before leaving your current church.  To ensure you’re in alignment with the new congregation, it’s important to ask some penetrating questions to a pastor or elder.  You should not ‘grill them’, but rather have an ongoing conversation over several interactions as you work towards making a commitment to the congregation.  The list of questions that follows provides a starting for topics to cover.  Some of the information (e.g., doctrinal statement) may be available online, but it’s still a good idea to get more color on each area.

  1. Please explain the Gospel (this sounds like an elementary question, but you can learn a lot based on the depth or shallowness of the explanation).  What is essential for salvation (e.g., some churches teach that baptism is required for the forgiveness of sins)?  Is Jesus the only way to be made right with God?
  2. What is the church’s doctrinal statement?  You should follow-up for clarification as appropriate regarding the nature of God, salvation etc.
  3. Which of the doctrinal positions do you see as church/denomination distinctives vs essentials of the Christian faith? Do I have to affirm all of the points to become a member or are some considered less significant (e.g., position on end times)?
  4. Does Scripture contain errors?  If so, in what areas?
  5. What role do creeds and catechisms play?  Does the church subscribe to any?  How does tradition affect interpretation of Scripture?
  6. What is the role of elders?  What are the requirements for them?  How are they selected?
  7. What is the role of the pastors?
  8. What is the process to become a member?  What are the expectations of members?
  9. What are the priorities of the church (e.g., missions, evangelism)?  What other like minded churches and organizations (locally and globally) do you work with to fulfill these priorities?
  10. What model for missions do you support?  How much of your budget is allocated to missions?  How are support decisions made?
  11. How does the church engage and serve the community?
  12. What do you see as strengths and weaknesses?
  13. What have been the highlights of the church during the past couple of years?
  14. (If you have children) What is the goal of your children’s ministry?  What do you expect a child to know and do by the time they graduate?
  15. What spiritual disciples do you practice?  What people or books have been most influential to you on during your spiritual journey?
  16. What do you see as the most difficult issues facing Christians today?  How are you preparing your congregation to handle these?
  17. What is the purpose of life?  How would you describe a mature Christian?  How does the church help Christians to mature in the faith (e.g., small groups, accountability partners, mentors etc)?  What is the role of pastors in this vs other members?
  18. What is the role of prayer within the church?  When does this take place?
  19. How is the church’s financial situation?  What is its policy on debt?  Does it have expansion plans?  Does it run special campaigns to raise funds?
  20. Has there ever been a church split (or mass exodus) over theology or another issue?  If so, what was the circumstance?
  21. What is the church’s position on [your issue of concern]?
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1 Response to Questions to Ask Before Joining a Church

  1. Pingback: Questions to Consider before Leaving a Church | James' Mirror – Christian Discipleship Guide

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