There are so many different churches. How do you find one that's good for you?
So you’ve decided to take the next step on your spiritual journey. Doubt has given way to cautious openness and you’re ready to give church a try. What now? How do you find a place where faith connects to the real world, where you can be yourself and get in touch with God?
Handle with Prayer
The best way to connect with a faith community is to start by praying—simply asking God to guide you. The Bible tells us that God wants his people to gather and worship together. So it makes sense that he would answer your prayer for direction and lead you to a place where you can learn and grow in your faith.
Home, Where You Belong
When you hear the word “church,” what comes to mind? Small white building with a steeple? Sprawling brick complex complete with parking garage? Stained glass windows? Uncomfortable pews?
While many congregations meet in traditional buildings, the structure is not really the point. In fact, the physical location is relatively irrelevant. A church is more like a spiritual home, no matter whether it meets in a movie theatre, a coffee shop, or a centuries-old chapel. Some fledgling churches actually begin in homes and grow from there.
When you look for a church, search for a group of people who follow Jesus, who believe the Bible is true, and who find joy in serving together—no matter where they meet. That’s where you’ll find a true spiritual home.
Listen to God’s Blog
Church is a place to grow in faith, to learn about God with a community of believers, and to praise him for all he has done and all he will continue to do. Listening to others read from the Bible is like listening to God’s blog. The New Testament was written long ago, but it’s still relevant today.
No matter who you are or where you’re from, the Bible has plenty to say about your life. If you don’t have a Bible, no problem. Churches often have them available, or they put up the words on a screen during the sermon.
How Do I Start My Search?
Doesn’t it seem like almost every search begins with a search engine? They’re named for it, after all! Do some Googling to find a church in your area. If they have a website, check it out.
Read about their staff, especially the pastor. Find out about any programs they have that might interest you. Read through their list of beliefs and see what they’re all about. And, of course, look for their location and the times of worship services.
If you have a Christian friend—perhaps someone who has invited you to a Bible study or talked with you about spiritual things—ask if you can go to church with him or her. Sometimes that’s the most logical place to start, as long as your friend seems to have an authentic walk of faith with Jesus Christ. This can also be helpful if you don’t want to go to church alone on your first visit.
Shake Someone’s Hand
Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right church for you, and if that’s the case, don’t be discouraged. Like everything else in life, finding a church that fits is a process. You might visit one or two or ten.
Each time, stick around and shake a few hands after the service is over. Make yourself known. Make a connection. After all, if you reach the decision to join a church, you’ll want to know some of the people who attend. Rest assured, the day will come when you’ll find a church that is the right fit for you.
But remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect church; churches are made up of imperfect people like you and me. A good church recognizes our flawed human nature as an indicator of our need for a savior; as such, its congregation members are constantly striving to become more like Jesus.
Bring Your Questions
You may say, “But I’m not ready for church. I don’t know exactly what I believe.” That’s okay. We’re all learning—including life-long Christians. You may ask, “Will I be accepted if I’ve done something bad?” Well, haven’t we all? No one gets it right all the time, and forgiveness is available.
All questions are good questions because it means you’re looking for answers. And answers are available in this life from a sovereign, all-knowing God. For now, the most important step you can take on your spiritual journey is to put yourself in a place where you can find answers to your questions—in a church that will help you move forward in your spiritual journey.