Church, Complementarianism, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Six Questions for a Potential Church

Originally published March 27, 2015

church questions1

Have you ever had to look for a new church? Even with recommendations from godly friends, it can be hard to know which churches and pastors are doctrinally sound, and, of those doctrinally sound churches (because you certainly don’t want to go to one that isn’t doctrinally sound), which ones would be a good fit for your family.

There are lots of great articles out there with good, probing questions you should ask about the theology and doctrine of a church you’re considering. (I would recommend this one, this one, and this one. Also, make sure you understand these doctrinal issues and that the church you’re considering lines up with Scripture on these issues.) However, there are times when the answers to these types of questions don’t give you the whole picture of what is actually going on in a church on a day to day basis. In other words, sorry to say, a church can give you all the right answers on paper (or on their web site), but their practices don’t mirror those answers. Additionally, there are some non-doctrinal issues that are important to know about that questions about soteriology, baptism, biblical inerrancy, etc., won’t give you the answers to.

My husband and I are currently looking for a new church for our family. Since we are Southern Baptist and somewhat familiar with the handful of Southern Baptist churches we’re looking at, we already know the answers to the most important questions (the inspiration of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, the way of salvation, etc.) But I want to zoom in a little more on the finer points of belief and practices of these churches, so here are some questions I might ask the pastor of the church we would potentially join.

1.
Which Christian authors have had the biggest impact on your life, beliefs, and ministry?

When I ask this question (and look over the pastor’s shoulder at the titles on his bookshelf), I’m listening for the names of authors and pastors, living or dead, that I know are committed to sound biblical doctrine. If I hear a name like Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Rick Warren, Beth Moore, or any Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation personality, I’m going back to ask more probing doctrinal questions. If I hear multiple names like those, I’m outta there.

2.
Are you/this church complementarian or egalitarian?

Now you may not be familiar with those terms but any Christian pastor should be. It is a current issue in evangelicalism, and it’s part of his job to stay abreast of such things. I’m not looking for a pastor to be an expert on this topic, but he should be familiar with the terms and have a working understanding of the issues at play as well as the applicable Scriptures, and he should embrace and practice complementarianism as the biblical position.

Because I have been given the right “on paper” answer to this question in the past only to find out later that the church’s practices didn’t match up with its profession, I will probably ask the follow up question: “In what positions of leadership are women currently serving? Do any of them hold authority over men or instruct men in the Scriptures?” If I hear that women are (or would be allowed to in the future) teaching co-ed adult Sunday School classes, giving instruction during the worship service, serving on committees in which they hold biblically inappropriate authority over men, etc., that’s problematic.

3.
Can you give me some examples, from any time during your career as a pastor, of church
discipline issues that have arisen and
how you have handled them?

I’m looking for three things here. First, what does this pastor think constitutes a church discipline issue? If he thinks it’s necessary to discipline a female church member for wearing pants instead of a skirt, that’s an issue, because he’s disciplining someone who’s not sinning. If he doesn’t think it’s necessary to discipline church members who are unmarried yet cohabiting, that’s an issue because he’s not disciplining people who are sinning. Church discipline should only be exercised over unrepentant sinful behavior.

Second, is he afraid to exercise church discipline? Generally speaking, someone who has been a pastor for many years and has never handled a church discipline issue is either woefully ignorant of the biblical requirement of a pastor to rebuke those in sin, or he is afraid to rock the boat because he might get fired. Both of these are huge red flags.

Third, how does he exercise church discipline? Does he follow the steps outlined in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures with a heart to see the church member repent and be reconciled to Christ and the church body? Is he harsh and condemning? Is he firm enough in his resolve to carry all the way through to disfellowshipping a church member if necessary?

4.
How much oversight do you (or an
associate pastor or elder) have over the
women’s ministry at this church?

With this question, I’m trying to find out how much the pastor knows about what’s actually going on inside the women’s ministry (if they have one) and how much responsibility he takes to make sure all teaching and activities are in line with Scripture. Does he research and approve all teaching materials before a women’s Bible study commences? Does a women’s ministry director have complete autonomy over all materials and activities? Are all of the women in leadership positions in the women’s ministry godly and spiritually mature? Would any of the women’s ministry leadership raise a stink if someone showed them from Scripture that a Bible teacher whose materials they use or a women’s ministry activity they enjoy is unbiblical?

5.
Does the music ministry at this church follow a
minister of music model or a concert model?

There’s nothing wrong with Christian concerts per se, but my husband and I feel strongly (notice, I did not say “the Bible says”) that the worship service is not the place for one. We believe that a minister of music, preferably one who is ordained to the ministry, should lead and take responsibility for the church’s worship in a pastoral role. He should be trained in the Scriptures, preferably at seminary, in order to rightly handle and apply them to the music portion of the worship service and other music programs. He should also be trained in music theory and conducting so that he is able to lead in the practical aspects of music.

By contrast, we do not believe that making the music portion of the service like a concert, in which a band gets up and plays in a dark room with a laser light show and a smoke machine and the congregation can sing along if they want to, if they happen to know the songs, and if they are able to follow the ad libbing of the lead singer, is conducive to worship. We believe this tends to make the worship band into entertainers and the congregation into spectators, whereas the minister of music model fosters an atmosphere of “we’re all pulling together to do the work of worship as a unified body.”

This is not about contemporary music versus hymns, it is about one worship model versus another. It is our conviction (again, not a biblical mandate, but our strongly held conviction) after more than two decades in music ministry ourselves, that the minister of music model – regardless of the genre of worship music used – is the one most conducive to strong, biblical congregational worship. So this is something we’re going to want to know about, even though it is not necessarily a doctrinal issue.

6.
Do you preach topically or expositorily or both?

Topical preaching is when the pastor selects a topic to preach on (parenting, money, etc.) and uses biblical passages that apply to that topic to form his sermon. Pastors who preach expositorily usually preach through a book of the Bible from beginning to end before moving on to the next book.

Both are valid forms of preaching as long as God’s word is rightly handled and applied. However, it has been my experience that pastors who preach exclusively topically have more of a tendency to lift Bible verses out of their context in order to make them fit the topic they’re preaching. This is usually not as much of an issue for pastors who preach expositorily because they are simply preaching the Word, verse by verse, in its context.

Additionally, expository preaching gives church members a better understanding of Scripture and how it fits together, and exposes them more thoroughly to a wider range of biblical truth than exclusively topical preaching does. Therefore, I am looking for a pastor whose preaching style leans mostly towards expository, but who isn’t afraid to preach topically if he believes the church needs instruction on a certain topic.

So, those are some of the questions I’m thinking about asking. What questions would you ask when considering a new church?


For more resources on finding a new church, or what to look for in a church, click the Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

Podcast Appearances

Interview with Doreen Virtue on Beth Moore

It was such a pleasure to once again appear on my friend Doreen Virtue’s videocast. We had a warm time of fellowship around the Word discussing Beth Moore, false doctrine, the sufficiency of Scripture, the role of women in the church, and more.

I encourage you to check out Doreen’s website, and follow her on social media. Doreen is most active on Instagram, but you can also catch her on Facebook. Be sure to subscribe to Doreen’s YouTube channel so you won’t miss any of her videos. I also highly recommend Doreen’s book, Deceived No More.

Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the videocast:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit

The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism

Rock Your Role: Oh No She Di-int! Priscilla Didn’t Preach, Deborah Didn’t Dominate, and Esther Wasn’t an Egalitarian

Rock Your Role FAQs

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

The Mailbag (This isn’t a newsletter, but a weekly {Mondays} blog article.)

Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends

Recommended Bible Teachers

Bible Studies

Speaking Engagements


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the Speaking Engagements tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Podcast Appearances

Sharing the Journey Podcast Guest Appearance

Last week I had a wonderful time interviewing with Melissa Morris on the very first episode of her Sharing the Journey podcast. Listen in (and watch!) as we chat about biblical womanhood, Beth Moore, discernment, and how women can and should serve the local church.

We also talked a bit about the women’s conference I’ll be speaking at this fall at Melissa’s church. It’s going to be on the topic of biblical womanhood, and we hope you can make it. Here’s the info (from my Speaking Engagements tab):

October 22-23- Women’s Conference,
Pop-Up Church in Faber, Virginia.
(This conference will be open to women in the surrounding
areas, but you must contact the church directly for details.)

You can subscribe to Pop-Up Church’s YouTube channel to catch future episodes of Sharing the Journey. And be sure to check out the Sharing the Journey website, too.

Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the interview:

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

Bye-Bye Beth: What Beth Moore’s Split with the SBC Means

Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (no) Moore (includes AWFS podcast episode links)

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

Has Beth Moore only recently drifted, or has she always been false? by Elizabeth Prata (My apologies to Elizabeth for mangling the title of her article during the interview!)

Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Putting on the “You Can!” of Complementarianism

Unforbidden Fruits: 3 Ways Women MUST Lead and Teach the Church


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!

Church, Christian women, Complementarianism, Rock Your Role

Sisters Are Part of the Family of God, Too!

I’ve got some wonderful, godly male friends and acquaintances on social media. I’ve learned from their wisdom, referred people to their churches, and had a great time joking around with them.

But every now and then there are men who stumble across my social media accounts or blog or podcast, seemingly drunk with biblical ignorance, who clearly don’t think women should have any sort of a voice when men are around – or at all, I guess. In my mind I call them the “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys, because that’s what it feels like they’re saying to me, and to women everywhere.

One of the errors of the Pharisees’ legalism was that they stretched the boundaries of God’s laws farther than God intended them to go. This is why, when we see Jesus and the disciples walking through the fields and picking kernels of grain to eat in Matthew 12, the Pharisees accused them of “doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath”. Because this was, ostensibly, “harvesting” and “threshing” – working on the Sabbath.

But as Jesus went on to explain to them, this kind of unbiblical overreach of the fourth Commandment was never God’s intent. The Sabbath was a gift of rest meant to benefit God’s people, not to oppress and enslave them to nitpicking, nor to keep them from enjoying God’s blessings.

Today, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, and antinomianism, rather than legalism, is the false teaching du jour. Antinomianism stretches the boundaries of God’s grace farther than God intends it to go. That’s why we have to spend so much time teaching and explaining that the Bible prohibits women from being pastors and elders, and from preaching, instructing men in the Scriptures, and holding authority over men inside the biblical boundaries of the formal gathering of the church body. Because, for the antinomian, practically anything, anywhere, goes.

But the “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys help us to see that the same type of legalism the Pharisees practiced – though not as prolific – is still alive and well today. They stretch the boundaries of God’s command for the role of women in the church gathering to all other venues in which women might have a voice – to anyone, about anything. Some even say women aren’t permitted to teach other women and children, which is clearly at odds with Scripture.

The God who consistently values women holistically – their skills and talents, their intelligence, their contributions and hard work – throughout Scripture never intended this kind of unbiblical overreach of His commandment regarding the role of women in the church. This command was a gift meant to benefit God’s people, not to oppress and enslave women nor to keep us – or our brothers – from enjoying God’s blessings, especially the blessing of each other.

God consistently values women holistically – their skills and talents, their intelligence, their contributions and hard work – throughout Scripture.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that there’s a difference between the “set apartness” and formal structure and hierarchy of God’s house for worship and instruction, and the informal, unstructured “family time” around the table, around the living room, around the Twitter machine. And we forget that these two different environments serve two different purposes.

Worship and instruction are vital and primary. But we are the family of God. Brothers and sisters. Siblings. We need each other. The give and take. The back and forth. The jokes and laughter. The sharing, advice, support, encouragement, and yes, even the occasional, biblically appropriate brotherly or sisterly reproof. We’re to relate to each other as family – especially during “family time,” which is different and discrete from worship and instruction time.

We are the family of God. Brothers and sisters. Siblings. We need each other.

How dysfunctional would a family be if, during informal times of fellowship all of the sisters were prohibited from taking part in the discussion, sharing thoughts, offering insight, setting an example, and even proffering loving words of correction?

Normal, healthy, natural families don’t operate that way. And God uses the natural family as the metaphor for the way He relates to us: Father to child, the way we relate to Him: child to Father, and the way we relate to each other: brothers and sisters.

We’re to love one another and draw strength and help from one another, not amputate half of us from fellowship. When legalistic men unbiblically silence women…

…they’re out of alignment with the God who values women.

God showed us that women are valuable by purposefully and intentionally taking the time and effort to craft a woman in the first place. He could have stopped with Adam, but when He finished forming man, for the first time in Creation, He said, “It is not good…”. And the crowning glory, the final masterpiece of His world, was woman.

Throughout Scripture, from Sarah, Hannah, Esther, and Deborah, to Mary, Anna, Priscilla, Phoebe, and so many more, we see God using women to glorify Him and further His Kingdom.

Jesus and the epistles instruct men to love and protect women, to respect women, and to treat them with honor and dignity.

The God who sees women as a valuable part of His creation, who requires the respect of their worth, would never shut them out of family life, treating them as though they don’t matter.

…they are rebelling against God’s complementary Creative design.

Why did God say at Creation that it wasn’t good for man to be alone? Because he needed a helper “fit for him,” or “corresponding to him”.

Yes, God was speaking of that particular man, Adam. Yes, God was speaking of all husbands yet to come. But there’s a very real sense in which God was also saying, “It is not good for male humanity to be alone on planet Earth. Therefore, I’m going to make women as well.”.

Mankind needs the complementarity of womankind. He’ll be strong where she’s weak and she’ll be strong where he’s weak. He will fill out Creation with masculine beauty that she can’t contribute and she will fill out Creation with feminine beauty that he can’t contribute. He’ll see things from one perspective, and she, from another. It’s like two gears in a machine that fit together perfectly and work together perfectly, yet each doing its own distinct part.

God wasn’t finished with Creation when He created man. Something was still missing that God wanted to supply, and He filled in that hole in Creation with woman.

God wasn’t finished with Creation when He created man. Something was still missing that God wanted to supply, and He filled in that hole in Creation with women.

And when you basically tell women, across the board, to sit down and shut up, you’re denying and suppressing God’s Creative design for women… and men.

…they are crippling the church’s ability to carry out the “one anothers” in a healthy way.

Love one another. Comfort one another. Forgive one another. Serve one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.

Because men and women complement one another in our strengths and weaknesses, we need both men and women to minister the one anothers to each other in the church. Otherwise, the balance is completely thrown off. Without the compassion and nurturing God has uniquely wired into women, a man’s “Comfort one another,” could turn into, “Suck it up and rub some dirt on it. You’re fine.” “Forgive one another,” might become, “I’ll forgive you….but first I’m going to punch you in the mouth.” Without the dispassionate objectivity and firmness more common to men, women’s comfort might turn into enabling, and forgiveness into being a doormat. And how can a woman properly bear the burden of a man who’s struggling with lust, or a man the burden of a woman facing infertility?

We minister to one another together. We need both halves of the church for it to be healthy and whole.

We’re family, folks. We sisters need you brothers, and, yes, you brothers really do need us sisters – even you “Shut up and go sit in the corner” guys. That’s not feminism, it’s not rebellion, it’s not sin…it’s family. When we understand and embrace this, we’ll discover what a precious gift God has blessed us with.

The gift of each other.

Additional Resources:

Rock Your Role series

Rock Your Role FAQs