Monday, May 3, 2010

10 Tips for Finding a New Church

  1. Start on the Web: The Internet is a useful tool when considering new churches. You often get to see what the church physically looks like, a map of where it's located, and most importantly, you can get a feel for what type of programs and ministries are offered. This can also give you a brief glimpse into life at different churches, what type of members they have, their beliefs, and more.
  2. Be truthful with yourself: What denomination are you? Or do you want to join? Baptist? Methodist? Lutheran? Catholic? There are many denominations to choose from. Pick what's right for you and your family. You might even want to sit down and discuss with your family what your core beliefs are; maybe even make a list.
  3. Call ahead: Be courteous and call ahead before visiting potential churches. Also, come up with a list of questions you might want to ask the minister or a clerk or congregation members. This list can also help you remember differences about churches if you are visiting quite a few.
  4. Be practical: If you are a Baptist and there are four Baptist churches in town, why not pick the one nearest to home? There are definitely considerations of comfortability and faith to take into account, but there's no reason to be impractical if there is more than one church you like. Or maybe you could even go to different churches on different Sundays. Sometimes in one town or city their will be a larger church that will have smaller, sister churches throughout the community, so possibly you could be a member at one and attend them all.
  5. Consider your relationship with Christ: Not all churches are the same. Ministers preach in different ways not only because they are on their own walk with the Lord, but because they are familiar with the journey the church members are on. Are you on the same path? Maybe you're ahead or behind? Maybe you're on a side path? Maybe you're on a different path altogether? People come to the Lord in different ways, though all through grace. Make sure the feel is right for you. Can you continue to grow in your walk with Christ?
  6. Spend some time: If you decide to visit a church for a Sunday service, visit more than once. Some churches rotate their preachers, and you'd get a chance to see whom else will speak the Word. And if a church has multiple services on one Sunday, maybe try different ones. See what's the difference between the 8 a.m. service and the 10 a.m. service and the 6 p.m. service.
  7. Be cautious: And keep your eyes and ears open, as well as your mind. Churchgoers can all seem friendly at first, they like new and potential members, but that doesn't mean their church is right for you. Maybe you have a different belief about something than the majority of members have. Or it could be any number of things. Just make sure you and your family are comfortable. Ask for a Statement of Faith from a church leader; nearly all churches will have a Statement of Faith.
  8. Be open minded: To some extent. Don't decide against a church for possibly silly reasons, such as maybe they only sing old hymns while you prefer a more modern approach to Christian music. These things can be important if they add up, but don't let one small thing completely sway you to or away from becoming a church member.
  9. Trust your feelings: Just because a church is big and has a huge marketing plan doesn't mean the church is right for you. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Make sure a church is more about family and faith than it is about numbers and advertising.
  10. Ask around: If you are moving to a new area and/or starting a new job, don't be afraid to ask new people what church they attend, or even if they attend. Most people will not be offended, even if they don't go to a church, and this could lead you along the right path. Plus, once you get to know people a little, you'll know whether or not they attend service and probably where.

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