Curated or Cured? How to Find a Good Church

Curated or Cured? How to Find a Good Church June 3, 2024

white church and steeple in a field
How to find a good church? Image by Ken Haines from Pixabay

But What is Their Purpose?

Christian family, in your search for a church, a ministry, or bible study- we should look for a place that tells us God’s truth, not one with the right look or feel. Equipped with the truth of the Bible, we can choose a church based on what God says, and not what the world wants. By looking at questions to ask as we consider possible choices, we will be better able to “test the spirits.” 

A few weeks ago, I was perusing the new mall of life, Instagram, and saw a very polished women’s church event… with a certain: aesthetic. Immediately my eyes were drawn in through color, lights, and shamefully I daresay- outfits, all calibrated to a moving in real time- reel format.

What was certainly lovely in appearance to the eyes, soon turned very bland by my precursory search of their purpose. In sifting through the event, even going to their website to see their statement of faith, I could not discern or ascertain any sort of substance beyond fluff. 

How can we discern through the distractions? Hopefully these questions will guide us to place that stands on and teaches God’s truth. 

What is the Problem with Aesthetics (A Good Looking Church)? 

Why do I care if a church or ministry looks good? 

Two reasons: sin can look really good, and we are called to care! We are called to “test the spirits.” 

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now it is already in the world. (NASB, 1 John 4:1-3)

You know exactly what I mean if you have been on social media or have attended a church that is all surface and no substance. Beautifully empty, kind of like a historical mansion tour. 

“Wow, a life was lived here once…” we lament with an echo… 

Our churches must have LIFE based on God’s truth. Because we serve a LIVING GOD, Amen? 

After all, “aesthetic” is the new buzz word it seems. Creating a pleasing look for all that can be filtered, edited, while even digitally removing whole objects out of the background, is a common expectation now. 

Is this also done in our churches? Yes, yes it is. 

John spoke on this in Revelation, and had a name for these lifeless churches: lukewarm. 

 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Rev. 3:15

To avoid a “lukewarm” church, here are some questions to ask when you are searching:  

  1. ASK: Is their purpose about Jesus and His grace leading to transformation through justification and sanctification? Or is the purpose about our own simple self-led transformation? 

Breaking it down further: Is this about Jesus or myself? 

If you leave a sermon thinking, “Wow, that felt so good! I am filled up!” You might have an issue with self-fulfillment versus life change. Jesus did not die for you to keep going on through your work week, unchanged and dead to sin. He came to free you, and this should be made clear in their statement of faith and every message the pastor preaches.

Church is not a self-help experience. Tony Robbins or Brene Brown is not and should not be your pastor, telling you how to live your best life. 

Yes, He has set us free! But if your church is not telling you from what or why, then it is pointless.

Your pastor needs to be sharing the truth in love that will free you from the law of sin and death. 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you a free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2

Pastors should be preaching the Word, not A word. 

The bible says we are in a “spiritual battle,” that we are called to “submit ourselves to God” and to even put sin to death!


And neither does Satan at trying to thwart your walk with the Lord. Your pastor should not either! It is time to stop all the props, catchy themes complete with pyrotechnics, choreography, and theatrics, and to get the WORD to the people. 

Believe me, no one likes shiny things or pretty or theatrics more than I! BUT…

Churches should be cutting out anything that would distract their members from getting to God. Enough is enough. 

And this- THIS- is why Jesus was flippin’ tables angry: PEOPLE OF GOD WERE MISUSING HIS HOUSE. They were getting in the way of the gospel and even making a profit off of poor people trying to receive atonement. 

You get in the way of God’s plans to redeem His people with your own selfish goals for gain, and boy howdy, it won’t be good for you! 

Basically, be on the lookout to discern if this church is about self-help or the saving grace of Jesus? Because when we are saved through grace, we are then becoming sanctified. The sanctification process is the ongoing holy work of the Holy Spirit that shapes us to become more like Jesus. He helps the self! 

2. ASK: What is the Context? 

There is a very large church in the area that has a billboard near downtown that reads: “You are victorious.” With the pastor couple’s photo prominently displayed. 

One could say that this is biblical, but nowhere does it say that statement without the context and intent of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf to atone for our sins thus giving us victory over sin and death. 

 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:57

Am I the jerk here? Look, no one wants victory more than I! I grew up watching the movie Rudy, okay! But we need to remember what was won: our freedom, our reinstatement with God! Not victory over anything necessarily in the day to day. 

Does God want us to be happy? Well, He created happiness, so, one can assume so! He created joy, peace, etc. We are to experience these feelings for sure! 

But we should not take a snippet and run with it. Remember, the editing I aforementioned? 

Now, I have not been to a service at the church with the billboard. I have seen past televised messages, have seen people I trust review their work, etc. So I cannot say with certainty that the gospel is not being preached, but having seen what I have seen and not seen, I can proceed on faith that there might be a lack of biblical standing and teaching. 

Our church should take the context (before and after the passage, the cultural history, the audience, the genre, etc.) into consideration. Actually, this is the pastor’s job, but it is our job too as Christians- to know the truth to discern what is not. Why? 

Well, our enemy is known as “the Father of Lies.” He started it! He tempted Eve by twisting God’s Word. Hello and oh snap. 

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44.

3. ASK: Is this Jesus or Jesus plus? 

Believers, I know we like to add stuff to stuff, but do not do this to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have all we need already. 

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Gal. 1:8

How do we know if the church is adding to the equation? Works. If they are saying we need to earn anything – run! 

Works are antithetical to grace. If we have to earn Jesus’s sacrifice, then there is no point to grace. 

Works is the because, not the requirement. There is not prerequisite to eternal life, except Jesus. He makes it so simple for us so we cannot get it confused, and thus, be apart from the Father. The goal is to get us to God, not farther away! 

4. ASK: Why am I Going Here? For My Friends or for the Lord? 

And now is the part of the show where we discuss: Church Splits, my least favorite gymnastics move! 

A moment of silence and prayer. 

Church splits suck. I am sorry. I have to be course. It is so awful. Have you ever wondered why it is so awful? I will tell you, because Jesus said:  

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

We are supposed to be united my friends, the exact opposite of split apart. And we are members of one body, a split is actually physically painful. I have shed many tears, and I am not even on church staff! Have you? I am so sorry. I truly am. 

My daughters lost their church friends and leaders. People that they cared deeply about. Gone. 

My fellow sisters. Gone. 

And over what? Misunderstandings and the like. Usually. 

Lord, help us, Your church is hurting. 

And this is why it is SO important that your church stands on the truth. Let the earth quake around you, dear ones, but stand firm on the Word of God. You want a “firm foundation?” Here is what God says through Paul to Timothy about the church in Ephesus: 

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge,” (1 Tim. 6:18-20). 

Let’s say you’ve found the one! You’re further down the road now, and you are beginning to want to search again.

  • Have you talked to your pastor first?
  • Have you asked God first?
  • Or is this because someone else is talking in your ear?
  • Is it the Holy Spirit leading you? Or your “beliefs”? 

We need to stay together. If you have a question, comment, or more- go to the people in charge- not the ones around you. Do not be afraid to do so! Your leadership will welcome it. Pray for wisdom. Always.

5. ASK: What is this Church’s Relationship with Sin? 

If Jesus had to die in our place, why would we dare sugarcoat that? 

Are we comfortable (in our sin) or are we cured from it? 

There’s a trend in parenting going around: We don’t tell our children about sin. 

What in the world is this deceit?! Why would you not discipline or warn your children or shepherd them away from harm?  

It stinks, but look, we are the sheep in need of a shepherd. If we are not, then we are the wolves. It is simple. 

If the church or ministry in question is uncomfortable with sin or calling out what is evil, then RUN. Affirming can be code for: enabling. Jesus came on down from Heaven- HEAVEN- to be brutally tortured and murdered on our behalf, once and for all, for a place that calls itself a church to condone sin. No ma’am. 

Let us not fool ourselves, no one is without sin. I am just as much as sinner and more. But God. Remember sin because without it, then what was the point? 

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8) 

Will your church love you enough to tell you the truth? 

I leave you with an example of what can happen to churches that value a curated look over a cured heart: 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Romans 1:21-25

Another helpful resource: Theology Mom: What to Look for in a Church

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