Whether you’re new the faith and looking for a place to call home, or you’re a veteran of churchgoing and want to find somewhere else to dwell, choosing the right church can be difficult. From differing doctrines to the style of service, there are many combinations that can be the right–or wrong one–for you. How do you find a church that’s right for you? Here are a few tips to help you on your journey.
First off, if you are married and/or have kids, the decision isn’t just about your personal preferences. I suggest talking, especially, to your spouse, about what both of you are looking for in a church. Chances are, if you’re married, you’ll share some commonalities in your preferences. If you have differences, don’t be disheartened. Finding the right church might, and usually does, cause sacrifices on both sides. Just really be open and honest about what is important to you, when looking for a church to attend.
Secondly, ask around. If you have friends at other churches, ask them what their church is like. What kind of service is it? Do people dress up, dress down, or wear whatever they want to church? How long is the service? What is the layout of the service? These are all surface questions to use, to get a feel of a church.
Once you’ve talked to your friends about their different churches, research them. Most churches have a website. I must emphasize the usefulness of utilizing these sites. I have made decisions whether or not to visit several churches, based on information I’ve seen on their websites. Along with Sunday school and church service times, most churches’ websites have a link to their mission, vision, and [hopefully] their doctrinal beliefs. The latter is the most important, because you get to see what the church believes. Reading this can save you the hassle of going to a church and getting disappointed, if it’s not what you expected.
After you’ve narrowed down your list of churches from the previous step, start visiting the ones that are left. In my personal opinion, to really get a nice feel for a particular church, you should go three times. Try to go during a month that isn’t laden with holidays. December is a bad time to go to churches sometimes, because the head of clergy could be away visiting family, and in lieu of actual services, there are usually Christmas plays and cantatas. You want to visit when there are regular services and Sunday school classes, so you can see how the church is usually operated.
When you’re done with your rounds of visits to different churches, if you have a spouse, sit down with him or her and discuss the pros and cons of each church. Make a pro/con list, if you must. Keep in mind, each others’ preferences for a church. Have an open discussion about what you did and did not like about each church. After you’ve had your discussion, you should have an idea of what churches you liked the most, and which ones you really didn’t care for. You should move forward with the ones you agreed were the best.
From there, you may want to start a second round of visits. As you visit more, you may want to meet with the head of clergy of each church, to talk more about the church. My husband and I are getting ready to do that this week. There may be questions you want to ask. If you are interested in being involved within the church, you may want to ask about opportunities to serve, where you can use your skills and talents. If you like small group Bible studies, you may want to ask more about each group. If community involvement is your thing, asking about a church’s humanitarian work, is acceptable. Talking with the head of clergy at each church, is a good way to find out a lot about the church.
By this time, you probably will have made a decision, or are closer to making the decision of what church to go to. You don’t have to strictly follow the procedure outlined above, but doing things like those steps, will help you make a good decision for what church to go to, where you can fulfill your spiritual needs. If you’re like me, you’re tired of the search, and want to find somewhere you won’t want to leave after a few months. Learning about a church will help you skip disappointment, and leave you with a feeling that you’re finally home.