Finding a church can be a difficult, time consuming experience. It often takes a great deal of patient persistence, especially if you are looking for a church after moving into a new community. Usually, you can only visit one, or possibly two churches a week, so the search for a church can drag out over a period of months. Here are some practical steps to remember, along with questions to ask yourself as you pray and seek the Lord through the process of finding a church.
Time Required: Varies
Where does God want me to serve?
While this resource is meant to offer practical steps for finding a church home, prayer is of primary importance in the process. As you seek the Lord’s direction, he will give you wisdom to know where he wants you to fellowship. So, be sure to make prayer a priority each step along the way.
- If you’re not sure why it's important to find a church, check out what the Bible says about church attendance.
There are many Christian denominations to choose from, such as Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Church of the Nazarene, and the list goes on and on. If you feel called to a nondenominational or interdenominational church, there are many different types of these as well, such as Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Community churches.
What are my beliefs?
It’s important to understand the doctrinal beliefs of the church before joining. Many people become disillusioned after investing a great deal of time in a church. You can avoid this disappointment by looking closely at the church's statement of faith. Before joining be sure the church effectively teaches the Bible. If you’re not sure, ask to talk with someone about this. Some churches even offer classes or written material to help you understand the church’s doctrine.
- Learn more about basic Christian beliefs.
What type of service structure?
Ask yourself, “Would I feel more freedom to worship through a structured or formal liturgy, or would I be more comfortable in an informal atmosphere?” For example, Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Orthodox churches will usually have more formal services, while Protestant, Pentecostal, and nondenominational churches will tend to have more relaxed, informal worship services.
What type of worship?
Worship is the way we express our love and appreciation to God, as well as our awe of his works, and wonder of his ways. Consider what style of worship will allow you to most freely express adoration to God. Some churches have contemporary music, some have traditional. Some sing hymns, others sing choruses. Some have full bands, others have orchestras and choirs. Some sing gospel, rock, hard rock, etc. Since worship is a key part of our church experience, be sure to give the style of worship serious consideration.
What ministries and programs are offered?
You want your church to be a place where you can connect with other believers. Some churches offer a very simple ministry approach and others extend an elaborate system of classes, programs, productions and more. So, for instance, if you’re single and want a church with a single’s ministry, be sure to check into this before joining.
Does the size of the church matter?
Smaller church fellowships are usually unable to offer a wide variety of ministries and programs, while larger ones can support an array of opportunities. However, a small church can provide a more intimate, close-knit environment that a large church may not be able to cultivate as effectively. Becoming relational in the body of Christ often requires more effort in a large church. These are things to consider when looking at the size of the church.
What type of attire?
In some churches t-shirts, jeans, and even shorts, are appropriate. In others a suit and tie or dress would be more appropriate. In some churches anything goes. So, ask yourself, "What is right for me--dressy, casual, or both?"
Call before visiting.
Next, take some time to list specific questions you would want to call and ask before visiting the church. If you take a few minutes each week to do this, it will save you time in the long run. For example, if the youth program is important to you, put that on your list and ask specifically for information about it. Some churches will even mail you an “information packet” or “visitor’s packet,” so be sure to ask for these when you call.
Visit church websites.
You can often get a good “feel” for a church by visiting its website. Most churches will provide information about how the church got started, doctrinal beliefs, a statement of faith, plus information about ministries and outreaches.
Make a checklist.
Before visiting a church, make a checklist of the most important things you hope to see or experience. Then rate the church according to your checklist when you leave. If you're visiting many churches, your notes will help you compare and decide later. As time passes you may have trouble keeping them straight. This will provide you with a record for future reference.
After visiting a church at least three times, ask yourself these questions:
Is this church a place where I can connect with God and worship him freely? Will I learn about the Bible here? Is fellowship and community encouraged? Are people's lives being changed? Is there a place for me to serve in the church, and opportunities to pray with other believers? Does the church "reach out" by sending missionaries, and through financial giving and local outreach? Is this where God wants me to be? If you can say yes to these questions, then you've found a good church home.
Begin your search now.
Here are online resources to help you start your search for a church right now!
Ask other Christians.
If you still don’t know where to begin your search for a church, ask people you know—friends, co-workers, or people you admire, where they go to church. Also, check out these tips from our members:
- Remember, there is no perfect church.
- Visit a church at least three times before making a decision either way.
- Don’t try to change a church. Most of them are set in their mission. There are so many different ones out there to choose from, it’s best to just find one that's a good “fit” for you.
- Don't give up. Keeping searching until you find the right church. Being in a good church is too important to neglect.
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