Updated: May 5
I feel kind of hypocritical writing this post. I am about to explain how I think someone can find a good church family, but I myself am currently church-hopping! Perhaps that is why I started thinking about how to find a good church to participate in, in the first place. Either way, here are some tips that are helping me as I look for a church to call "home".
1. Determine what you believe in. This connects with one of my previous posts (Should I leave the church?) where I point out that although there is value in church membership, sharing God's love and studying the Bible are the things I prioritize. Before you commit to a denomination or a church family, you have to know what you value in your own spiritual walk. While it can be more comfortable to just go to a church that you grew up in or a church where all your friends are, I would caution against this. I believe the best way to determine what things are important to you in your relationship with God is to study God's word and pray. Read the Bible for yourself, and then start connecting with others. If you are already currently affiliated with a church, study what they believe and compare it to the Bible. Seek after people who are doing honest Bible studying and see if you can connect with them.
2. Pray about it. Even after you have established what you believe in, it can still be hard to know what church is right for you. I believe there is an element of faith that can be involved in church searching. Only God truly knows what church will nurture and inspire you in the ways you need. Ask him to guide you to the right place. You would be surprised how things can fall into place when you allow Him to lead you.
3. Visit local churches. If you want to find the right church for you... you are going to have to actually leave your house and explore a little! I think this can be one of the hardest steps, especially if you are single and don't have a lot of friends in your area. Going into a church by yourself when you've never been there before is incredibly nerve-wracking. To this day I still get uncomfortable when I have to go somewhere new even though I've been attending church almost my entire life.
4. Observe the current members and pastor. When I am visiting a new church, I purposely hold back even though I am a naturally outgoing person. I want to see if the members of the church will reach out to me. I put a lot of value on first impressions. If I come into a church and no one speaks to me besides the greeter, or the "regular" members look at me like I came from another planet, I will probably not return to that place. In contrast, if I come in and several people greet me, ask me about myself, and mention events that I can get involved within that specific church I am much more likely to return. I also pay attention to the pastor, and I listen intently to his sermon (even if it isn't my favorite style). I want to see if he references the Bible or if he is going off his own knowledge. For me personally, I want a message that I can explore on a deeper level after I leave the church service.
5. Get involved. Once I have found a church I think I might enjoy, I start to do a sort of "trial run". I go to church, I go to fellowship dinner, and I even try to attend a weekly Bible study or outreach event. Again I pay attention to how the people around me are interacting and if they are friendly to me. If I find myself enjoying and feeling uplifted by those activities and making friends, I am likely to settle in and join that church.
In my experience, church attendance provides two important things: fellowship and encouragement. Being a Christian can be really hard! It is important for us to have friends and like-minded people to connect with. Even though I love studying the Bible for myself, I definitely get discouraged at times. Regular church attendance helps remind me that time with God is important and learning more about how He wants me to live my life is vital to my happiness.
What do you look for in a church family? I hope you find a great group to connect with!