Well, to start, you interview the Pastor. That's right, interview him. Note the word him, if you read on the sign or walk in and find a woman pastor, simply scratch that church from your list and leave immediately. If anyone asks why you are leaving, simply tell them the truth, that you are looking for a Good, Solid, Evangelical, Bible Preaching, Christ centered church, not a social club. They are already preaching what they figure God meant to say, figuring that He, God, isn't smart enough to say what He means and mean what He says in His book the Holy Bible.
So, now let's start:
Your first question: "Pastor, tell me, what must I or anyone do to be saved?"
When he answers you, if he adds or subtracts even one condition to the below, walk away.
He should tell you that in order to be saved, you must do exactly what the Bible teaches one must to do to be Saved. And while he may use much more Scripture, they should all support these verses of Scripture:
...Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
9 Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that Light (Jesus) is come into the world, and men loved darkness (satan) rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:3-21 ACP/KJV)
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9&10 ACP/KJV)
So, in answer to your question, his short answer must be, "You must be Born Again." He should then go on to explain what Born Again means, Scripturally and with Scripture. Bottom line, only one man in the entire Bible heard theses words: "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" When you get some time, read Luke 23, pay attention to what that thief that heard those words did and said before Jesus looked at him and said "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise".
The second thing to ask Him is: "Pastor, how do you feel about the ordination of women and or homosexuals?" If he has anything other than opposition to both, walk away. Don't argue with him, don't explain, simply say, "Thank you for your time," and leave. The Bible is very clear that only a man can pastor a church and that man can not be a homosexual.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:11-14 ACP/KJV)
If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:1-13 ACP/KJV)
And why is this so important? Why is it so important for a preacher to not accept women or homosexuals into the ranks of the clergy? Read what God, through His Apostle Paul said to Titus:
For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. (Titus1:5-11 ACP/KJV)
The third thing to ask him is this: "Pastor, in Genesis chapter one, God claims to have made the earth in six, twenty four hour days, what do you think?" If he tells you that the word 'day' in Genesis one means thousands of years or even millions of years, he is wrong. If he has said anything other than "a day means a literal 24 hours," then at that point you must tell him that you disagree, that you believe that God said and meant a literal twenty four hour day. Now, if he drops it and his answers to the previous questions have been ok, then stay and continue the interview. But if he starts an argument with you, telling you that it can't mean a literal day because science has proven that man evolved over millions of years, then thank him for his time and leave. Go find another church, for he is letting man's word tell him how to understand and interpret what God has said in His book.
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:1-31 ACP/KJV)
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11 ACP/KJV)
The fourth thing you want to ask him, is this: "Pastor, how do you feel about this statement, 'the public school system in the United States has become so anti-Christian, that the time has come for Christians to either home-school their children or put them in a Christian school, but not in a public school.'" If he disagrees, but has answered the first three questions right, then simply tell him that you disagree, but you realize that God has entrusted children to their parents and that each parent must take responsibility for doing what is right for his or her children. But if he answered number three, about the meaning of day in Genesis one wrong, and this one wrong, it is time for you to politely thank him for his time and leave. I would not have a home church where the Pastor was not home schooling. I will not have a guest pastor or writer on ACP that does not home school. How can one preach on family values if he cares so little about his own children that he sends them into the Christ denying, homosexual applauding public school system?
Fifth question: "Pastor, do you believe in the Trinity? I mean, do you believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all One and equal parts of the God Head?"
If he answers "Yes" unequivocally, stay! But, if he says "No" or even "yes, with a few and/or, or buts, you're out of there! Don't ask him to explain the Trinity to you, a "Yes!" answer is all you are looking for and requiring.
The sixth question: "Pastor, do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, was crucified, died and was raised from the dead?"
If he answers "Yes" unequivocally, stay! But, if he says "No" or even "yes, with a few and/or, or buts, you're out of there!
And finally, this seventh question: "Pastor the Bible teaches us: 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:, no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' Pastor, do you personally believe and teach that every word in the Bible, from the 'In the beginning of Genesis 1:1 to the 'Amen' of Revelation 22:21 to be the word of God?"
Anything other than a "Yes!" should cause you to politely get up, thank him for his time and leave.
So, if you got the right answers to the questions above, you have found yourself a home church, a good Solid, Christ centered, evangelical home church. Praise GOD!!! If not, well just keep looking, there is one out there but you may have to drive a bit to get to it, Cec and I drive about a half hour each way to get to Cornerstone Gospel church in Naples. Before that we drove 45 minutes each way to get to Warren Feustal's church in Lovell.
And while there are many more questions, these seven are a real good start. Don't expect your Pastor to be perfect, he works for Jesus, he is not perfect. And never forget this, trust no man 100%. Test every sermon against the very Word of God, your Bible. The Pastor's job is to preach. His responsibility is to bring Scripture to you each week. He is not and get that word not, he is not responsible for your salvation, you are.
I love you guys and would never in a million years intentionally mislead you, but I am human, only human, I make mistakes just as every other serious, God loving, God fearing pastor and you do. As you walk into church Sunday, look and see how many people are carrying their Bibles. As you become more comfortable in your new church, offer to help. Be an active part of your new church family.
And for those of you going to phony churches, stop trying to change it from within, go find a real solid evangelical Christ centered church.