How to Find a New Church That Will Light up Your Spiritual Life
Have you recently moved to a new town and want to find a new church to attend? Or maybe the way you feel about going to church is similar to the dreaded way you feel about going to the dentist to get a root canal; then chances are good that you need to find a new church. I have had both experiences and have developed a series of tips that I hope will help you find a new church.
For a Christian, going to church should not feel like a chore or obligation, but should be a positive experience. Going to church is a chance to worship God in a way that brings you closer to him. You should be able to feel God's presence when you attend church. The right church should be a place where you feel loved and accepted. It should also allow you to grow spiritually and help you to reach out and share your faith with the world around you.
Sometimes people get so caught up in going to church because they are going to see their friends, or staying at a church because they grew up in that church. Or maybe because their extended family goes there, that they continue in a church that does not feed them spiritually, or where Jesus is hardly mentioned. It's hard to be a good Christian in a place where people have forgotten about Jesus!
Church Search Poll
Have you ever had to look for a new church?
Some Signs That you May Need to Find a New Church
- You dread going to church every Sunday and look for excuses not to go every week
- You regularly fall asleep during church
- You leave church feeling empty and that you got nothing out of the whole experience
- The pastor preached about things you don’t believe in
- The church attendance is dwindling, and you are among many attendees who are unhappy there
- No one speaks to you when you go to church, and you feel invisible there
A person’s spiritual life and relationship with God are much more important than what church he or she attends. At the end of your life, do you think you will be happiest because you were loyal to a specific church, or because you worked hard to find a church that fulfilled your spiritual needs and helped you to live a life closer to God? For me, and for most people I know, the latter is the correct answer.
5 Tips on How to Find a New Church
1) First, You Should Pray About It
Ask God to lead you/your family to a church that will bring you closer to Him and help your spiritual life to grow. Ask Him to let you know when you have found the church He wants you to attend. You will know it because He will lead you there.
2) Ask Your Friends for Recommendations
Do you know someone who enjoys their church and talks about their church family in a positive way? Find out more about their beliefs and the church mission statement as it may be the right church for you. If not, tell them what you are looking for in a church, and they may know of a church that would fit your needs/style.
3) Be Willing to Look Outside the Box (Religion)
If you were brought up as a Methodist but the only Methodist church nearby is not the right church for you, be willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something else. Lutheran churches are similar to the Methodist church. Or maybe try a Baptist church. Brought up Catholic but struggling with that religion? Maybe try an Episcopalian church which is the closest Protestant church to Catholicism.
4) Do an Internet search
Most active churches today have a website. You can search for certain types of churches such as Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc. through a google search. Put in words like, "Catholic churches in Hartford, Connecticut" and you will have a whole list to choose from.
5) Be Aware in Your Community
Look for churches during your weekly errands, listen to the radio and see which churches offer what you want…i.e., reaching out to the community, offering special services for the holidays, offer vacation Bible school for your children, offer regular services at a time that works well for you, etc.
What to Look for on a Church Website
Once you have identified a church you might like to visit, do some research. Head to the internet and visit the church website. Look for the following:
- Website - In this day and age, if a church doesn’t have a website, then that’s probably an indication that they are not looking to grow, or are a bit disorganized. With advances in social media, most healthy churches today use the internet to share their mission with the world. At the very least a church website should tell prospective visitors the time of their services and anything special that is happening a month the church community that week/Sunday.
- Church Mission Statement - a church mission statement will tell you what the belief of the church as a whole, and you can then decide if that aligns with your own core beliefs.
- Church Service Times -This is important because you may work a job that has you unavailable for church on Sunday mornings either on a regular or periodic basis. It’s important to find out what other times services are such as Saturday nights, Sunday nights, or Wednesday nights. If the church does not have times that work with your schedule, you will know in advance that the church is not a good fit for you.
- Women’s Programs - this may or may not be important to you but if you enjoy a fellowship with other women in a group setting, then having a women’s program will be important to you.
- Men’s Programs - same as above, but for men.
- Children’s Programs (if you have children) - most parents who have children under the age of 18 will want them to be part of their church attendance and having an active children’s program is important.
- Outreach Areas - this is helpful because it will tell you what the options are for your involvement if you were to attend this church. If you enjoy going on mission trips, helping at church fundraisers and visiting at nursing homes, you will find many of these activities listed under Outreach. If those things are important to you, and a church doesn’t have many outreach opportunities, you may want to keep looking for a church more aligned with your desired outreach activities.
- Music - if you enjoy a good musical program this area will be important to you. Is there a traditional church choir? Is there a more contemporary band and worship group that sings on Sundays? Most people are comfortable with one or the other so checking this out on the website before attending will help you know what to expect if you go for a visit. And if one of those is out for you, you will know that’s not a church for you.
- Proximity to Your Home - this is important for some people. Maybe you don’t want to drive an hour to church every Saturday night or Sunday morning? Make sure a church you are considering visiting is one that you can commit to driving to each week.
What to Keep in Mind When Visiting a New Church
- Reception: Are the people warm and welcoming or do they only chat amongst themselves and ignore newcomers?
- Music: Can you handle the music program or does the music presentation bother you?
- The Pastor: Is the pastor someone who conveys an appropriate message that will feed you spiritually or does he put you to sleep?
- Bible: What Bible does the pastor use? Some Christians are adamant about the Bible they use. The New International Version (NIV) is very popular, but you may feel the only true translation is the King James Bible, so keep that in mind. My personal favorite is the King James version, but I also enjoy "The Way" which gives a more current translation which is easier to understand. I use both in my personal Bible study.
- Visitor Card: If you fill out a visitor card, the chances are good that you will receive a visit or at the very least, a phone call from the Pastor or a church member. Is this a church that you would feel comfortable with that contact? If you know the church is not for you, don’t fill out a card because it will be awkward to have to explain to someone who contacts you about why you don’t want to return to that church. But if you would welcome a visit and the chance to ask questions about the church, by all means, fill out a visitor card.
The Way Bible is one of my personal favorites and the translations are easy to understand
An Interview With the Pastor
Once you have identified a church that you think is the right church for you, it's a good idea to have a chat with the pastor at that church. You can ask questions about him, and the church practices to make sure you are in agreement with the main beliefs of the church. For instance, if you are a born again Christian and you ask the pastor if he offers altar calls and he looks at you oddly as though he has no idea what you are talking about, that's a red flag that the church may not be right for you.
For instance, if you are a born-again Christian and you ask the pastor if he offers altar calls and he looks at you oddly as though he has no idea what you are talking about, that's a red flag that the church may not be right for you.
Or if the church is old fashioned and sings only out of the hymnals and you ask about the possibility of the church incorporating some musical instruments like drums and a guitar on Sunday mornings, and he shakes his head no with a horrified look on his face, which might be a red flag.
Or you may have children and ask about the children's programs. If you are told they are non-existent, or that there are only a handful of children attending the church, you may want to find a larger church with a larger youth program.
An interview with the pastor could make or break your decision to attend a specific church, so it's a good idea to set one up to do a final check that this church will be a good fit for you and your family.
The Goal of Spiritual Fulfillment
Attending a church that fulfills you personally and allows you to grow spiritually and share God’s love with your community and the world are important aspects in the life of a Christian. Don’t waste your time, or God’s time in a church that will stunt your spiritual growth, and prevent you from becoming the best child of God that you can become. These tips will help you find a new church that enhances your/your family’s spiritual life and helps you to live a closer walk with God and follower of Christ.
If you have any more tips about how to find a new church, please leave them in the comment section below.
© 2017 Karen Hellier