Looking for a church? I wrote this “sort of” how-to-guide, inspired because I moved to a new city and on the quest for a new church. Perhaps you are also in my situation, or you are new to Christ and Christianity, or simply need a new church, I hope this piece provides some helpful points for finding and choosing a church.
Over the past years, I have had to move to new cities a couple of times. My approach in the past often started with a Google search and making enquiries on social media or within social – circles. However, I believe finding a church requires some sitting down and reflection on our basis for finding a church. We need to ask and answer some key questions. This can be described as a pre-planning phase as well as a “getting to know self” stage.
Here are three questions I believe we need to set out time to reflect on and find the answers to.
- Why do I go to church, or why should I go to church?
The Bible is clear in Hebrews 10:25 to not stop going to church. We are advised to always go to church so that we stay spurred on in our walk with Christ. Church is the place to be stirred up in love, faith, and joy and the place to stir up our gifts and all other good works (Hebrews 10:24).
Do not stop going to church meetings. Some people do stop. But help each other to be strong. You must do it all the more as you see the Great Day coming closer. Hebrews 10:25 (WE)
This question however is a personal one, like our relationship with Christ. It is necessary we ask ourselves why and find the answers. Maybe you have been on the church routine long enough and need to refresh those reasons. Some of us have been in church since we were babies. It was how we spent time together as a family, the only weekly family activity or event. For some, church was where we discovered us, our gifts, and what God had to say about us. For some, church was and has always been there. “I chose this church because it is the nearest to my home”, “A friend invited me to church, I liked it and I stayed”, “The church music was good”, “The pastor preaches such a sermon here”.
Yes, these are all great reasons to attend church, but why do we go to church? What convicts us to stay in church?
Because we are going to need that conviction when the friend leaves, when the music becomes bad, when the new pastor has no prophetic sermons and when everything tells us it is time to take a break or leave.
Another question, which may be helpful in finding answers to the above, would be finding out what you require from a church.
- What do I need from a church?
Everyone has some needs that need to be met. They could be physical, financial, spiritual, etc. At some point, hopefully, when it comes to the church, our needs are in par with Christ. As a new believer, the need could be to learn more about the foundations of the faith. Other needs could be: to be loved and encouraged, to explore talents, to have a family, etc. Someone may join a church with the need for a job or livelihood. There are people who found their first jobs or business contracts in church. Someone may join with the need for spiritual growth. As unique as our relationships with God are, so are our needs when it comes to church. Finding the answers helps us to know if our needs are being met, and if not, ensure they are being met. It helps with the resolve to stay in and connected to church when we do not feel like it.
Hopefully, now we know why we go to church and what we require from the church. Another question, that might not cross our minds, is the expectations of the church. Church should be a two-way-relationship, where we receive from the church, and we give to the church as well.
- What does the church need from me?
No church leader desires a rebellious congregation or a congregation that refuses to align with church goals. There are churches that are not eager to accept anyone as a member. They desire committed members who will dedicate themselves to the growth and wellbeing of the church. When we become members of a church, we are submitting to the church authority. We are submitting to its rules and doctrines. The church may need financial and time commitments as well as skills commitment. We need to be ready and consider this as well. Every church requires dedicated and consistent members. Is that something we can do or are willing to do? Considering factors such as location of the church, the make-up of the church, the stage (new or old) the church is in, what sacrifices would we need to make to help the church. Are we ready to partake in church events and go out of our comfort zones when the church’s needs are to be met?
Church does not belong to the church leadership. The church is us, and we all make up the body of Christ. As it is explained in 1 Corinthians 12, all parts are important. Those visible and those behind the scenes. As much it is significant for the visible to be hard-working, those behind the scenes are influential for making it all come together.
The final but the first thing to consider and the most significant part of this self-reflection is to pray. Pray. It is great to know why we go to church, what we need from church, and what we can offer to the church. However, God knows us best. Pray and put every request before God, including this quest for a church. We need to pray for a church that meets His desires for this glorious person He created us to be. That He directs us in finding a church where we will grow to know Him more and be all we are expected to be.