When looking for the church found in the Bible, what criteria should we use? Which congregational shortcomings are something we should persevere through and which ones are doctrine issues we should avoid? First and foremost, when looking for the church we should make sure it is built on the right foundation.
Ephesians 2:20-22 (ESV): Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The church needs to be teaching the principles found in the Bible. The Bible is the only place we can find the inspired word of God, His teachings, His will, and His expectations. This is important because it is the word of God found in the Bible that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). The apostles and prophets under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit shared the word of God. They risked their lives and gave everything they knew to be obedient to His will and we should be willing to do the same. There is only one church and it is up to us to find that church using Scripture.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV): Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The church should not only be worshiping in truth, but also in Spirit. We will know we are residing in the church when we are consistently and enthusiastically sharing the word of God with each other. When we are humble in correction and willing to listen to the doctrinal concerns of others. We should engage each other in Bible studies instead of readily agreeing to disagree. In church we will sing spiritual songs that are accurate and consistent with Scripture. The church is not a place to sing any song we please, but songs that are edifying the congregation through the word of God. Last and often overlooked, the church is full of people with a heart of thanksgiving. Those in the church do not necessarily have everything they want, but they know everything they have is from God. They understand that all good things come from heaven and if now is not the right time, now is not the right time (James 1:17). Christians within the body of Christ will not covet what others have for any reason, they will be content in their blessing. When looking for the church, these are matters we should not compromise on. This does not mean every congregation we attend will implement these teachings the same way. It does not even mean they will fulfill these principles in agreement with how we believe they should be executed. But it does mean we should find these principles whenever we are looking for the church that will endure through the end of times (Matthew 16:18).