Your Community - Blog

How to Choose a Church Home

Tara Bready and Cheryl Boyd

Maybe you are new in town and feeling disconnected. Or maybe you’ve been in your community for a while but you find yourself longing for deeper connection.

Whatever the case, one of the first steps to friendship with other Christ-followers is to find a church home.

But where do you start? Do you go where your friends go or choose the one that pops up first in a Google search? How do you know if it’s the right place for you?

Take a deep breath and relax. A few simple steps can help you find a community of believers where you can grow and contribute to God’s work in your city.

But let’s start at the beginning: What is a church?

The Purpose of the Church: What It Is and What It Is Not

One of the reasons people have such a hard time deciding on their church home is they have a fuzzy definition of what a church is and of its purpose. These guidelines can help.

According to the Bible, there are five primary purposes for the church:

  1. Meeting together regularly for fellowship and worship.
  2. Teaching biblical doctrine.
  3. Observing the sacraments (such as baptism, which signifies entering the community of faith, and the Lord’s Supper, which signifies continued participation in the community).
  4. Equipping believers for ministry (for example, by teaching you how to love your neighbors like Jesus does).
  5. Praying together.

A picture of church can be found in Acts 2:42 (New Living Translation): “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals [including the Lord’s Supper], and to prayer.”

All believers in Jesus Christ everywhere throughout the world are part of the one universal church. But believers also need to be part of a local church, which is a group of Christians who meet together, submitting to one another in love, as a local expression of the universal church.

A church is NOT:

  • A building.
  • An event.
  • A place where a podcast is recorded and distributed.
  • A place for an audience to be entertained by a production or have an emotional experience.
  • A theological camp to belong to.
  • A group of people to hang out with until you disagree with them or get tired of the teaching or music.
  • A place to be seen, flirt, or find a date.

The purpose of a church is to glorify the Lord by gathering as Christ-followers. No church is perfect. Every church will have strengths and weaknesses. Decide what is most important to you in a church and extend the grace to others that you also need yourself.

Engaging in the church means bringing your gifts and talents to serve the church and its mission. The church reflects God’s image when each member is contributing for the good of the whole.

Being a part of a church is a commitment to a relationship. As with any relational commitment, it will involve humility and difficulty, as well as joy and blessing.

Don’t quit pursuing the fellowship God has for you. Perseverance bears fruit in your character.

As you search for your church home, we want to suggest four steps for your process.

1. Establish Criteria for Choosing a Church

Determine your values. Write them down, and weigh what is most important to you more heavily than what is least important. Be honest about what you want in a church; don't just make a list of the things you think you are supposed to care about. Just don't make your preferences more important than the essentials! Choose traits you want to be true of your church home.

Here are some things to think about as you decide what’s important to you:

  • Theological tradition (there are a variety of denominations and traditions to choose from).
  • Community involvement.
  • Community groups/small groups (organized by stage-of-life, neighborhood, gender, or scheduling availability).
  • Style of worship (formal, informal, etc.)
  • Diversity (ethnic, generational, etc.).
  • Missions.
  • Roles of women.
  • Location.
  • Size.
  • Where do my friends go? (Where do people I trust and look up to go?)
  • Children’s programs.

This is not an exhaustive list. Think about any other criteria you might use to determine if a body of believers is the right fit for you to join in glorifying God and enjoying Him with other Christ-followers.

2. Do Your Research

Learn about the beliefs, worship practices, organization and other aspects of the churches you’re interested in.

  • Look up their web page or Facebook page.
  • Read any news articles about them.
  • Call and ask a staff member at the church some questions.
  • Ask your friends nearby what they know about it or what churches they recommend.
  • Ask questions of some of the church’s members.

Narrow the list of possible churches in your city down to three to five churches that seem to line up with your most important values.

3. Visit Several Churches That Value What You Value

Keep in mind that there is much more to visiting a potential new church home than just showing up.

Before you go:

  • Pray and align your heart to God’s heart for these people you are visiting.
  • Go with a spirit of anticipation.

While you’re there:

  • Initiate conversations with people around you.
  • Ask God for wisdom as you consider whether this is where you should worship and have fellowship. A church can check all of your boxes and not be the right place for you to be long-term.
  • Have conversations with church leaders. (Fill in response cards and have follow-up conversations. Come with questions to learn more.)
  • Don’t try to be anonymous or invisible. You want to experience what the people are like.

When you leave, pray! Use God’s promptings, wisdom from others and the brain the Lord gave you to choose the church you think the Lord is calling you to attend.

Even if you don’t feel God leading you to that church, you can still pray for it when you leave. Praying for a church that you don't ultimately decide to join is a great way to participate in the universal church that we are all a part of.

4. Attend a Prospective Home Church for 3-6 Months, and then Commit

If you think a particular church might be the “the one,” engage with the people, meet with the pastors, and ask the Lord what He would have for you. Pray and listen.

If there is a reason you think a church you’ve been attending is not one you should join as your church home, it's OK. You can continue your search in faith.

If the church you’ve been attending feels like a good fit and is fulfilling God's purposes of worshipful community, celebrate! You've found a church you can call home.

Joining a church is a commitment to enter into community with a group of Christians to gather together to reveal the glory of God through the body of Christ. So commit to this new home. Get to know people. Share your heart. And worship God as a church family.

Related Topics:
Church Discipleship

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