Whenever you attach yourself to a group of people, it is wise to know what they believe. When you are looking for a church this is especially important. If you aim at a target on the horizon and walk towards it, and you are only off by only one degree, as you keep walking, you will find you are off by many degrees. It is so easy to get off track.
First of all, a church must believe the Bible is the Word of God. The pastor should be one who loves the Word of God and teaches it faithfully. He should never use it to manipulate or control the congregation. He should lead as a servant, by example. The cross, the Blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, should be frequent topics of teaching. He should teach the Word so the body of Christ will grow, and to encourage the believers.
Whenever the Word is taken out of context and used to control, manipulate, or make people feel like they have to do what the pastor wants, beware. Pressure to conform is not from God. In this environment the people are downcast, guilt laden, miserable, and even fearful.
Whenever a man is lifted up as one who hears from God and so must be consulted prior to making decisions… RUN! Never follow after a man, or anyone with a special vision, “No one else has seen.” If you do, you will follow your pride right into a cult. The price is high.
If the focus is on money, and prosperity, remember that that is not what Jesus promised us. He said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world,” John 16:33. Prosperity can easily become an idol.
You are what you eat. If a church is eating the right thing, the fruit will be evident. In a healthy church the pastor will teach the Word, lead by example, encourage the people to know God and to grow in grace. He will lead the lost to salvation by the Blood of Jesus and he will live by faith, trusting God because He is trustworthy. In that church, the people will be full of joy whether prosperous or not. An ideal church gives place to the Holy Spirit. The members know His voice and follow His leading in worship, and testimonies. They live as the body of Christ.
But the most important thing is for you to be saved, forgiven, washed in the precious Blood of Jesus. Spend time in the Word, getting to know Him. Pray to be filled with His Holy Spirit and to live your life with Him; then you are the right church.