Let’s play a game. For whatever reason, you’ve made the decision to attend church again for the first time in a very long time, maybe ever. Perhaps you’ve fallen on some rough times and are seeking some encouraging advice. Maybe you've recently had a child and you believe that faith is an important aspect for children. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to start looking for a church to attend.
The important question you may ask yourself is “HOW DO I KNOW I FOUND THE RIGHT CHURCH?”
I grew up attending church every week and even went to college to become a pastor. I served as a pastor for five years until I simply gave up on going to church. I was frustrated beyond explanation with the hypocrisy of the leaders. I was frustrated with how irrelevant the churches I served in were. They seemingly didn’t care about the community we lived in. So in 2006, I walked away from the church. I found it easier to love God and love others and not attend church. I would listen to messages online and that seemed to be great for me.
Eventually, my wife and I decided we should attend church for the sake of our children. So we started the process of looking for a new church. We really didn’t know what we actually wanted, but we definitely knew what we didn’t want.
During that time, I remember thinking “this is a nightmare”. It was so difficult to find a place where we felt like we belonged and wanted to be a part of.
So, in this blog, I want to address what to look for when you’re searching for a church. I asked for some help from friends and people I know who recently searched for a new church to attend.
I hope this helps.
Mike and Tammy looked for a church where the mission of the church was Christ-focused and outreach was a theme. They wanted opportunities to connect with others outside the Sunday morning experience as well.
In the weekend service itself, they were seeking engaging speakers who were theologically sound with quality music as part of the worship experience. Their children are grown adults, but they still understood that healthy, quality children’s programming that involved parents and families throughout the week was crucial.
Mike and Tammy also wanted to feel at home when they walked in.
The church they decided to attend and to get involved with checked all of the boxes.
This particular church is one of the most influential churches in America.
My friend, Tristen, was invited to attend a church by a friend of hers. It was important to have an outlet of hope. Being in the LGBT community, she previously felt unwelcome in church. The church she attends now offers hope. She told me, “This church breaks the Bible down into nuggets of information that I can literally walk out of the door with and apply to my life that day. They also talk about real stuff...depression, substance abuse, insecurities, loneliness, family issues, etc. They just make you feel like you are accepted and welcome. It pumps you up so much on a Sunday that is carried for the entire week.
Prior to this church, Christianity always interested me but the environment of the church I grew up in didn’t ignite anything inside of me to feel passionate about Jesus. It was an environment of a vengeful God where things were very black and white (right/wrong) versus an environment that celebrated a loving, forgiving and fatherly God.”
My friends, Gary and Kim, wanted to go to a church that made them feel welcome and RE.THINK Church was it. Kim said, “RE.THINK is our home now. I love Marc and Heather for everything they have taught me and have done. I feel that everyone should experience what RE.THINK has to offer at least once.”
Let’s go back to the game we mentioned at the beginning, “HOW DO I KNOW I FOUND THE RIGHT CHURCH?” What should you look for?
We as humans need to feel welcomed and accepted. We should attend a church that makes us feel welcomed and accepted as we are.
The message, preaching or teaching portion of the service should help us understand the Bible (The Bible is the collection of ancient writings that are God inspired. Followers of Jesus read the Bible to determine truth). The person giving the message should also help with the application part of the Bible. It’s important that clarity and application be part of the message. It’s through the message that God moves people to a point of changing their desires. A true transformation that happens is a result of God changing the desires we as humans have. This happens when a person understands the clarity of the Bible and how to apply the Bible to their own lives. All three churches mentioned are churches that have goals to clearly teach the Bible and help people apply the truths found in the Bible.
Find a church that you’re able to ask questions even the tough questions. The leadership of the church should be able to answer what the mission and vision of the church is, what are the values of the church. Church Leadership shouldn't shy away from tough conversations, or uncomfortable topics. You should have an avenue to ask the questions about faith, life, and purpose.
Lastly, the importance of ‘outward and next’ should be a focus of the church leadership. People who aren’t part of the church should benefit from the mission and ministries of the church. Emerging generations such as toddlers, elementary students and all the way through high school should be a focus. How do you know this is a focus? Every church might say these are important, but there’s a way to find out. Like most things, if money and energy are spent on emerging generation ministries such as children and students ministries, the church values emerging generations. If time and resources are allocated to serve in the community, the church has an outward focus.
If you know anyone who is looking to reconnect with their faith or connect with faith for the first time in their life, pass this along. They might just need a safe place to explore their faith.
Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash
WHy a blog?
RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.