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How long have you been at your church? Did you need tips for finding a church when you picked it?
I grew up at the church I currently attend. My family began going to this church when I was 7 years old. When I was a teenager, I left for a while and attended church with my grandparents. When I left for college, I was too far away to go to my home church on the weekends, but I did go when I was home. Then, when I got married in 2001, I moved again. My husband and I started going to a church near our home.
Once I came back to live in my hometown in 2003, we went to a different church for 10 years. In June of 2013, we left that church (for a plethora of reasons) and came back to the church we attend now.
Over the years, there have been seasons of searching for a church, and I have friends and/or family members in my circle who are or have been looking for new church homes.
How did you pick the church you attend now? For me, it was home. The church my husband and I attended when we first got married was in the same denomination. When we walked in, the people treated us as though we were part of the family from the first day.
Every time I have left and returned to my home church, it has been a case of “coming home.”
Are you in the midst of searching for a new church home now? Or will you be looking for a new church soon? If so, here are 5 Tips for Finding a Church to help you with your search.
Get Help with the Decision
Ask friends, family, and co-workers for suggestions for churches. If you are leaving your current church because you are relocating to someone too far to commute on the weekends, you can ask your pastor.
Your pastor may be able to connect you with ministers of churches in your new location. Of course, asking your pastor is not always an option, depending on the reasons for your departure from your current church.
Most importantly, and before all others, ask God about it. He will guide you and your family to the correct church.
Know Your Must-haves and Dealbreakers
When you are looking for a new church, keep in mind that like people, no church is perfect. Focus on the things that are most important for you and your family to find in a new church family.
Is your current church part of a denomination? Do you plan to stay in the same organization or venture out to try something new? What about trying a non-denominational church?
The Bible gives specific instructions for how churches are to be governed and run, so be sure that you look for a church that fits most closely with how the Bible designed it.
Does the church have a pastor, deacons, or board of elders? If so, how do these people work together to support the church and the others who work in the church?
Programs and Groups
What is the children’s program like? Do they offer something for all ages of children? If the church has multiple services on Sunday mornings, do they have these programs for all of the services or just one/two of them?
Do they have groups for men/women/couples? Are Bible studies something you are looking for; if so, do they have them for your specific demographic?
Depending on your family structure, do they offer programs for teens? Can senior citizens be involved as well? Basically, is there a way for everyone in your family to be involved as much (or as little) as possible?
Times and Days
What times do they offer services? If you have to work until 7 am on Sunday morning, and service is at 9 am, will you have time to get there? Do they have later services?
What days are services? When I was a kid, church was Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. My family attended every service. Now, that same church has Sunday morning services, but no Sunday or Wednesday night services.
When you are looking for a new church, what days are the services? Can your family attend on those days? Or, will you be able to change your schedule to get to the services?
Where is the church physically located? How far is it from your home? Will you be able to drive there for services and other events?
Convenience is a big thing. If you are going to miss a lot of services because you can’t drive across town to make it or you won’t be able to get there after work/school, maybe you should consider other options.
Does the church have the same statement of faith as you? Do your beliefs align with the teachings and beliefs of the church? If not, it is probably not the right place for you.
Outreach/Missions and Service Opportunities
Does the church focus on outreach? Are they trying to heal the needs of the local community? Are they focused on missions and trying to save the world? Both are great, and churches can do both, but does it meet what you are expecting from a church?
Can you and your family find opportunities in the church to volunteer and be of service? Does the children’s ministry need you to sing? Is there a youth choir for your daughter/son to participate in? Can your family be part of the Christmas dramas?
Would you and your family feel comfortable getting involved at this church?
Do you already know people who attend this church? Did you visit the church to be with a friend or family member?
Or, on the other hand, will all the people at the church be new to you and your family?
For me, music is a big deal. I’ve been singing in the choir and solos since I was 7. When I attend churches (to visit with friends/family), their praise and worship music is one of the first things I notice. I prefer talented singers who are using their talent for God; I do not like for people to get up in church and sing as a performance.
Does the church have music and singing that you can participate with during worship? Does it match how you prefer to worship? If not, is that a deal breaker for you? For me, it would be. If I can’t make a connection with the music ministry, I would have a hard time at the church.
When you enter the church, do the members (regular attendees) speak to or ignore you? Does someone help you find the restrooms, nursery, and a place to sit? Or, are you left to your own devices to find everything you need for the day?
Is the pastor loud when he is preaching? Or, is he more reserved and quiet? Which do you prefer? Can you attend a church where the pastor doesn’t preach in the way that you like?
For me, if a pastor speaks in a monotone voice and doesn’t keep my attention (no, I don’t want a performance), it would be hard for me to continue to go to that church. I prefer a pastor who is a dynamic public speaker. He uses his voice to tell the stories and information God has given him.
The size of a church can be the physical building or the people.
For people, do you want to attend a mega-church where there are thousands of people in an auditorium each weekend? Would you prefer something small, like fewer than 100 people? Or, like me, do you want something in the middle where the people get to know each other, and everyone has their place in the church?
For the building, do you want a multi-campus church where the pastor isn’t always in the same building as you? Would you want to attend a Bible-study-type church in someone’s basement/living room? Or, again like me, do you want to attend a church that accommodates about 250 people? It’s like a lot of the churches we see as we drive through the streets of small downtowns.
Do Your Research
A simple Google search will tell you a lot about a church. You can get the name, location, and contact information. You will probably be able to find the website for it. If you are lucky, the churches you are searching for will have reviews on Google. (Google reviews are not always reliable, so read them, but don’t make a final decision from them.)
As I stated earlier, the Bible tells the function of the church. When you are looking for a church, find one that aligns with what the Bible lays out for churches.
Review Church Website
When you find the website for the church, read through it. You can find out who the pastor and leaders are. Usually, the statement of faith is available there. Sometimes, churches will include some of their history on the website. You may be able to locate days and times for services and events. You can probably find links to ministries like music, children, families, and teens.
Sometimes, the church website will house previous sermons and services. If possible, watch a few of those videos. You may be able to decide from those if this is a place you want to visit or not. However, remember that watching videos is completely different than being in the sanctuary in person. If you think you might like this church, plan to take your family there to visit.
If you’d like to check out the website for my church, it’s here.
Visit the Church
After gathering recommendations, doing research, and praying about it, you are ready to visit a few churches. Do not go into this like you are looking for a house. Have a list of no more than 4-5 churches you want to visit.
If you have too many churches on the list, then you will forget what features stand out in each one. Then, you may have a harder time making a decision. With 4-5 churches on the list, you can visit one each week for a month. Some you will be able to eliminate after one visit, but others you won’t.
Remember that one visit may not be enough in most situations. You may need to visit the church a few times to make sure it is a good fit. Most churches do not have identical services every week, I know my church doesn’t. Some services are calmer, but sometimes we are loud and shouting praises.
Before going to any of the churches that are suggested to you or that you find for yourself, be sure you know what you want/need/expect from a church. It’s not like shopping for groceries or a car, but you need to know your preferences.
For example, if you have children, is a children’s church program something you really want? If so, and the church you visit doesn’t offer it, then you may need to reconsider.
But, you don’t want to “church shop.” Knowing what you want in a church is important, but manage your expectations. Don’t try to find something that has the right color walls and carpets. Don’t put things like having a pastor and singers who wear specific brands of clothes on the list. Another thing that is not required in a church is a coffee bar in the lobby with snacks. These are all things that you don’t need in a church. They are just things that some churches offer. If these are the types of things you are requiring from a church, then you may want to think about your expectations of a church.
After visiting the churches, it’s time to make a decision. You may not have to deliberate at all, but in some cases, you may have to have serious discussions.
Pray about it. Ask God to show you which church He wants you to attend.
Discuss the churches with those in your family who are helping make the decision. Ask your spouse and/or children their thoughts and feelings.
Make a decision and begin attending the church. Enjoy the sermons and get involved.
Thank God for sending you to the right church family.
I hope that these tips are helpful. If so, and you use them to find a new church home, come back and tell me about it. I’d love to know that my words were a blessing for you and your family.