St. Paul's Lutheran Church

Close this search box.

For further reading, consider purchasing or downloading a free copy of “On the Councils and the Church” by Dr. Martin Luther. Find a free copy, as well as many other free resources, at

Where do you find the church; where do you find God working on earth; where do you find the Spirit of God working? According to American Evangelicalism, the “true church” is where things are the most exciting and fun, and where boredom is never an issue. But is this the truth? Is this what the Scripture says? Is God the Holy Spirit just an emotion-driver, an excitement inciter, a feeling frother? Or is the true church something more?

If the Christian faith and the church is little more than a goosebump experience to be sought out week after week — little different than going to a concert to listen to your favorite singer or performer — then how is it any different than the things of the world? Humans, by nature, seek after experiences and encounters which stir the emotion and bubble up goosebumps. But does God come to us through our old nature, or is faith and salvation something more?

As we consider what the Church IS, it is essential that we set our human nature aside and think about this as God reveals it to us in the Scripture. We also have to acknowledge the fact that boredom is a sin, and the devil uses boredom to manipulate us into turning the church into something it is not meant to be. We must stop allowing Satan to saturate us with things that, while may make us less “bored,” also make us less Christian. The Christian faith is not about scratching the back of boredom, and the Church is not about entertaining us.

When looking for the Church, where do you look, and how do you recognize it amongst so many so-called “churches”? There are seven “marks” or characteristics which will help you.

The FIRST Mark of the Church, of which God’s people are to be known, is that it has the Word of God. The Scripture is faithfully and fully preached and taught, without filter or holding back. If the church does not have the Word of God it is no longer of the Church. We ought not defend such a church or its pastors, but we ought instead call the wayward and the confused out from that church so they return to the true Church where the Word of God is present.

The SECOND Mark of the Church is where the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is right taught and administered. Here we see the true Church where baptism is done as Christ commands, in the name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and where Holy Baptism is offered for the remission of sins. If a church rejects the latter but still does the baptism in God’s Triune name, it is still a valid baptism in spite of the false understanding surrounding it. This is still the true Church.

The THIRD Mark of the Church is where the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord’s Supper, is faithfully administered. That it be taught as the Scripture says, it being the true body and blood of Christ under the bread and wine, and that it be administered in accordance with our Lord’s command, to the penitent who are believing alongside others and not following their own opinions.

The FOURTH Mark of the Church is where the Office of the Keys is rightly used, absolving the penitent and rebuking the impenitent. Opening heaven to the humble and in need and closing heaven to the proud and self-righteous.

The FIFTH Mark of the Church is where men are called into the office of holy ministry. The church must have shepherds who are called and not just people who fill a need. Pastors, priests, bishops, they are given by God for His church.

The SIXTH Mark of the Church is where Christian prayer and praise is offered to God. This is the “right worship” mark and right worship is determined by the Scripture and not human opinion. It is not the true church where man prays to the false idols of human emotion, experiences, or enthusiasm. But it is the true Church where Christian pray to God and praise God in the true Spirit and the truth. Here is where the sin of boredom is killed and a spirit of thanksgiving and reverence is born. This is done only by God’s Word and a right administration of the Sacraments along with all the other marks.

The SEVENTH Mark of the Church is where the cross of Christ is front and center! The true Church preaches, teaches, exhibits, embraces, and honors Christ and His cross, does not chide away from seeing or hearing or remembering His suffering, and does not take offense. Instead, the true church holds tightly to the bloody cross for all matters of life and salvation.