There are many good resources out there on the marks of a biblical, healthy church. I don’t wish to add my own thoughts to an area that’s already been addressed by people more seasoned and wise than I. But I have found over the past ten years that there are other important questions that tend not to be considered or asked. Questions that will have a profound impact on the culture and practices of a church, and that will deeply impact—for better or for worse—the congregation.
It’s not about searching for perfection, since that’s clearly impossible. But as I move forward in life, these are questions that I’ll be asking. I’ve chosen not to provide an explanation of why I think each question is important, nor have I provided scriptural references to accompany each question. I could have. But to be honest, I simply lack the time to do so, and I also think there’s value in allowing readers to ponder these questions on their own.
They’re not the only questions to ask. Some of them may not even be the most important questions to ask. (Like I said, others have already covered that territory well.) But they are, I think, quite important.
How do they (or don’t they) make space for lament in corporate worship?
How does Scripture inform how they do corporate singing? (Who leads that time? How loudly are the voices and/or instruments of the song leaders amplified? How are songs chosen? What is or isn’t done with the lighting?)
What is their position on abuse in marriage? On divorce in cases of abuse?
Who are the pastors accountable to and what does that look like? Where can a member bring concerns about a pastor?
Who are the elders accountable to and what does that look like? Where can a member bring concerns about an elder?
What is the process for assessing the character qualifications of pastors and elders? Are current pastors and elders subject to ongoing character assessment, and if so, what does that look like?
What do they understand the biblical responsibilities of a pastor to be? An elder? A deacon?
Is the pastor primarily focused on his congregation, or is he invested in a broader-scale media ministry to the outside world, and how might that impact his congregational ministry? If he is on social media, how does he present himself and interact with others?
What practices or systems are in place to ensure that each member is known and shepherded by an ordained officer of the church? (Or, if they find that unnecessary or not possible, why do they find it unnecessary or not possible?)
How do they provide special care, relationship, and assistance to single women? To widows? To the chronically ill? To those with special needs?
How do they view pastoral responsibility for soul care/counseling?
Do pastors counsel female members in need of counseling? Why or why not?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this congregation?
What books, authors, and historical figures have influenced the pastor the most and why?
How would you describe the culture of this church (not the stated mission or what the website promotes, but what the actual experiential culture is)?