How to find the *Perfect Church*


This essay on "the perfect church" starts off with foundational Bible facts. Towards the end, however, it does deliver what the title promises -- more or less. Be patient and... READ ON!

First mention

(Jesus said...) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Mt 16.18

The first use of the English-language word "church" is found in Matthew 16.18. It translates the Greek word ekklesia, which is pronounced ECK-lay-SEE-ah.

Ekklesia means "called out" by God or "separated" unto God.

While we're about it, you may as well learn the theological buzzword for "doctrine of the church." That word is "ecclesiology," derived from two Greek words as follows...

  • ekklesia - church
  • logos - word or doctrine

Two usages

The Bible uses the word "church" in two different ways as follows...

  • The True Church
  • The local church

Each of the two usages of "church" is discussed in subsequent paragraphs.

The True Church

The True Church is not a denomination. It does not meet in a building. Its membership roll is known only to God.

  • The members of the True Church have never assembled together.
  • In fact, they will not assemble together until the Rapture -- the return of Jesus Christ for His Church.
  • The only persons who know if YOU belong to the True Church are... God, you, and the angels.

Intrigued? READ ON!

[If you are NOT a member of the True Church, you definitely ought to join! To "sign up," obey Romans 10.9-10.]

As written in Acts 2.41, the True Church consists EXCLUSIVELY of those who are saved -- those who are believers on Jesus Christ.   ... And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2.41b
For by one Spirit we (Christians) were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Cor 12.13

to the general assembly and church of the firstborn
(born again believers) who are registered in heaven... Heb 12.23a

There is only ONE True Church.

  • The members of the True Church are registered in heaven.
  • The True Church consists of ALL believers on Jesus Christ, both on earth AND in heaven.
  • If you are a Christian then you ARE a member of the True Church.

The True Church is neither a building nor a denomination.

  • The True Church is the body of Christ.
  • The True Church is saved people.
  • If you are a Christian, you do not "go" to the True Church. You ARE the True Church!

[NOTE: Theologians sometimes refer to the True Church as the "invisible church" or the "universal church."]

  And He (the Father) put all things under His (Jesus Christ's) feet, and gave Him (Jesus) to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph 1.22-23

The local church

Likewise greet the church that is in their house... Rom 16.5a

The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is
in their house. 1 Cor 16.5

Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is
in his house.
Col 4.15

And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to
the church in thy house Philemon 1.2
  The local church is the visible, institutional church.

The local church is the church that you (and other folks) attend here on earth -- in a house or wherever.

The local church is ordained by God.

God COMMANDS you to assemble with others in a local church.

The local church is very important to God.

  • Substantial parts of every New Testament epistle deal with the leadership and administration of local churches.
  • Moreover, three Bible books deal exclusively with local church matters. These three books, often referred to as "Pastoral Epistles," are First and Second Timothy, and Titus.
  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day (of Christ's return) approaching. Heb 10.25
But the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gift) is given to each one for the profit of all 1 Cor 12.7  

God gave each Christian one or more spiritual gifts primarily for the benefit of the local church -- "for the profit of ALL."

Subsequent paragraphs give more details concerning...

  • God's purposes for bestowing spiritual gifts
  • God's urgent goals for local churches

And He Himself (Jesus) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

  • for the equipping of the saints (Christians) for the work of ministry,
  • for the edifying of the body of Christ (the church),
  • till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God,
  • to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
  • that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive Eph 4.11-14
  • for the equipping of the saints

The church's job is to teach

God gives spiritual gifts to people in the local church for the primary purpose of equipping Christians.

"Equip" means teach and coach.

God wants local churches to train and educate Christians. Not merely to sermonize. To TEACH!

  • for the work of ministry

The church's job is to put folks to work

God wants every Christian to be trained for the specific purpose of preparing them to minister.

"Minister" means SERVE, and serve means WORK.

If you are a Christian, God absolutely wants you to WORK for Him. (READ Ephesians 1.10!)

Working for God means that you must...

  • Attend a local church with the same attitude as a soldier reporting to boot camp -- to be trained.
  • Attend a local church with the same attitude as a soldier REPORTING FOR DUTY -- not to be served, but to serve.
  • for the edifying of the body of Christ

The church's job is to build up

"Edify" means build up. Add to. Make bigger. Make stronger.

The local church's job is to build up the body of Christ, which is the church. The local church must build up the body of Christ...

  • in numbers (evangelism)
  • AND in holiness (education, prayer, and worship)
  • till we all come to the unity

The church's job is to foster fellowship and love

"Unity" means togetherness...

  • Fellowship
  • Koinonia
  • Loving the unlovely
  • Befriending the unfriendly
  • LOVING one another unconditionally -- despite our warts, hypocrisy, weaknesses, arrogance, and all -- even as Christ loves us
  • to a perfect man ... that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro ... with every wind of doctrine

The church's job is to protect, rear and nurture

In the verses quoted alongside, "perfect" is contrasted with "children."

In other words, the local church has the job of raising and educating "baby" Christians so that they grow up to be ADULT Christians...

  • Spiritually mature.
  • Trained in God's word.
  • Able to discern the difference between God's TRUTH and Satan's DECEPTIONS. (READ 2 Cor 11.13-15!)

The perfect church

If you are a Christian, you already are a member of the ONLY perfect church -- namely, the True Church.

As to LOCAL churches, you won't find a perfect one. However, there are lots of GOOD local churches.

A "good" local church, per Ephesians 4.11-14, would have the attributes listed below.

Specifically, a good local church...

  • Loves and worships Jesus Christ
  • Has the leadership of a Pastor-TEACHER
  • Prays a lot
  • Believes the Bible
  • Teaches the Bible
  • Regularly invites people to receive Christ
  • Trains you to serve God, God's people, and the world
  • Builds you up in knowledge and holiness
  • Holds you accountable, and boldly sticks its nose into your everyday life
  • Offers fellowship, and helps you learn to love and accept others
  • Puts you to work, to function as the voice and heart and hands of God

Please bear with me while I elaborate on the final point listed above

  • God never intended that any Christian should merely sit in an audience, listening to sermons, choirs, and special music.
  • According to Ephesians 2.10 and 4.12, God wants EVERY Christian equipped for ministry.
  • God wants you to experience the joy that comes when you WORK for Him.
  • If your local church doesn't have any meaningful work for you to do, that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a good church. However, it POSSIBLY means that you should seek a local church that WILL put you to work.

Oh yes, remember... you do NOT work for God in order to earn the right to go to heaven (Ephesians 2.8-9). You cannot earn salvation -- it is a GIFT from God. Accordingly, a Christian works for God solely as an act of love, obedience, and worship -- because he or she IS going to heaven.

Bottom line...

The local church that needs and USES your hands, your mind, your heart, your feet -- a church that puts you to WORK serving God -- is very likely to be exactly the right church that God has for you.

For we (Christians) are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
Which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them...
For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,
For the edifying of the body of Christ
Eph 2.10, 4.12


One lovely day in the future you will finally get to attend an assembly of the True Church.

On that great day, you will be in THE perfect church, with perfected members, with a perfect and infallible Pastor -- Jesus Christ: Lord of lords, King of kings!

In the meantime, God orders you and me to assemble in a far-from-perfect local church...

  • Are there hypocrites in the local church? Unfriendly people? Hard seats? No air conditioning? A fallible, sometimes boring Pastor? Probably! After all, we are ALL sinners saved by grace, and God isn't finished with us yet (not by a long shot!).
  • Don't you think God KNOWS that local churches aren't perfect? Of course God knows! Okay, so what does God have to say about this sad state of affairs? God's simple answer is GO! (Heb 10.25).

My OPINION is this -- learning to live and love and grow amongst the imperfections of a local church is an important part of your training!

God commands you, "GO to church!"
If you love Him, you will obey. Amen.
Heb 10.25, John 14.21-23

To read a Rich *devotional study* about finding a church home, click HERE


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