Sunday, September 16, 2012

Looking for a new church

For reasons I won't bore you with, I'll most likely be moving a little closer to school within the next month or two. This prompted me to start church-hunting again, to find something a little closer to where I'll be located. And this, of course, prompted me to start thinking in depth about what helps me decide what churches to try and what churches to stick with once I try them.

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Website

I must say, a church's website is a pretty huge first impression. If you don't have one... or if it looks like it hasn't been updated since 1992... I most likely won't read far enough to even find out when your service times are. You don't need a flashy, gimmicky site either (in fact, I'd prefer you didn't), but please make sure to list services times, directions, ministry and education opportunities, and also names and emails/phone numbers of people I can get in contact with in case I have more questions. Also, it is super helpful to have some photos/videos of actual members of your church (at a recent event, for example), to give me an idea of the age range / vitality of the church. If your church has ONLY white-haired people or ONLY college-age people... I'm probably going to keep moving. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like a healthy church should have attendees of all ages.

Friendliness

I'm trying a new church today, so I'll have to let you know how they rate on friendliness. Overall I think friendliness can make or break whether I decide to keep going to a church, though. I've been to churches that had great sermons but no one spoke a word to me the entire time - not in greeting or in finding out if I was new, etc. That's a huge red flag and a sign of some unhealthiness, if you ask me. I need to feel like I'm wanted at a church, first of all. For example, do they notice if I'm there or not? Does anyone bother to invite me along on their plans that afternoon or during the week (or does the church even have plans and things to do during the week)? I realize I'm introverted by nature, but it really shouldn't be my place, as a new person at a church, to reach out to them. Just saying...

Ministries

While I realize that not all churches will have all things, at minimum it seems to me that a healthy, growing church should have Sunday Bible classes for all ages (including adults), as well as some system of weekly night Bible studies or fellowship groups. Sunday morning sermons are great and definitely a vitally important part of church, but... if a majority of the church isn't meeting together and getting to know one another on a more intimate basis outside of Sunday morning, church becomes just something we do, rather than a way to learn and grow in our faith. I love to see a church that has a children's ministry, high school classes, adult fellowship groups, etc. This tells me that people are plugged in and involved, not just weekly pew-warmers.

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All this to say... I've been thinking a lot about churches lately and these are some factors that I've come up with to help me figure out where I'd like to call my new church home. Obviously Bible teaching is #1 in importance, but beyond that, I think some of these other factors can really be a good indication of the health of a church and whether or not it will be instrumental in helping me grow in my Christian faith.

What do you think? How do you personally pick a church? Have you had to do that since becoming an adult or do you still go to where you went as a child? What made you decide to stay at the church you're attending now?

10 comments:

  1. Finding a new church is a hard thing to do and sometimes it's trial and error! For me, even though I don't have teenagers at home anymore, I like a church with a really good Teen Youth Group program,because they will be the next lifeblood of the church. I feel that a church with a good youth group program is a church that is looking out for it's future. Good luck in your searching!

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  2. My Fiance and I are looking for a new church. We have been going to a new one every other sunday to try and find the "right one" for us.

    I love your blog and now following would love for you to visit me /follow @

    Dreams Do Come True

    http://happilyeverafter-tiffany.blogspot.com/

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  3. I found my church completely by accident. Which is pretty stupid because I can see it when I walk out my front door! I went there on a whim after my family was asked to stop coming to our previous church, due to our youngest son's autism. I was shocked when I walked into our current church and they were starting an autism ministry! That was 7 years ago, and now I work in the autism ministry too. My husband and I were recently discussing moving out of Florida once our youngest now turns 18, and the only thing that upset me was losing my church. The people here mean the world to me, and have strengthened my relationship with Christ.

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  4. I believe #1 is to seek the Lord - sometimes we get caught up in where WE think we should go and we forget to ask him....for me, the church HAS to preach the #truth 100%. It's important for me to have small groups...it's not mandatory but I believe they're important. I have a couple other friends searching for a church at this time in their life too...you'll find it. The Bible talks about the importance of being in church so if you pray and ask Him to show you the church, I believe He will...and soon! I have to say that people that who say they've been searching for years haven't been searching hard. God doesn't want you OUT of church for years...He places His members where He sees fit! Happy Hunting! lol. you'll get it!

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  5. I have got to say I have to feel comfortable in my church!! That usually includes smiling faces and cheerful singing!! Love your blog!! Following with BlogLovin!! Feel free to follow back!! Hope you have a great week!!


    https://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/3811068/bohemian-treehouse/follow

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  6. You got it spot on under the subtitle friendliness. I used to go to a church that had all of these criteria met (except for the website I think). It was smaller, but everyone said hi, the pastor made an effort to know your name, and I loved the teen group and the overall community. Then in my senior year of high school my parents out of the blue decided to find a new church. I felt sort of betrayed? I guess the word is? And after months of trying to find another one they settled on this bigger church (border line like, one of those mega churches). I personally feel insignificant and it's pretty clicky. No one made an effort and like you, I'm more of an introvert. This church has everything else (no sunday bible study, unfortunately) but I've been there over 3 years and I only know the names of the kids I watch since I work in the nursery once a month.

    Once I move out, I'll definitely have to reference this. Not that I want to break away from my family, but honestly the church they picked just isn't for me.

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    Replies
    1. You are actually a No-Reply Blogger as well! I left you a comment over on your blog also. Here is a great tutorial on how to fix that: http://www.pleasant-home.com/2010/12/so-exciting-less-no-reply-bloggers.html

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  7. I loved reading this blog post...I mean, I've enjoyed reading your other posts, but this one is one I want to repost/share from my own blog...and I'd also like to share it with our pastoral team. My husband and I have been doing college ministry in Louisiana for the past 5 years...and just recently, like 3 months ago, we moved 1400 miles from home to Colorado to be the worship & associate pastors at a church that just started 2 weeks ago. It's been quite an adventure being a part of this church plant!! We are currently meeting in a middle school, and we don't know how long we'll be there...every Sunday, setting up and tearing down...but so far, we LOVE it...

    I appreciate you sharing what you are looking for. I know you'll find it. Seek the Lord...He will be found. You will find a place where the church needs you just as much as you need it. That's a great feeling. Again, I appreciate your honesty. I'd love to hear how the church you visited rated on friendliness and all that you are looking for...and if you had any other insights you'd like to share with a church that is just starting, I'm ready to listen!!! Thanks again!!!

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    1. PS - I don't know if I'm a "no reply" blogger...I think I've included my email...but if I didn't, I'd still love to hear from you!

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    2. You're right, you ARE a no-reply blogger. ;) I just found your blog and left a comment there.

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