The other day, April, who’s new to the DFW Metroplex, asked me about finding a church home. I’m here to tell you, April, it’s not always easy. I found myself church-shopping a while back and it took more than a year to get settled. But I do have some ideas that might help—and I suspect other people will, too. If you’re an “other people” please share your insights in the comments. Both April and I will appreciate it.
Location, Location, Location
This is the reason I had to find a new church. I moved north, my church was south, and the drive became just unbearable. I stuck it out as long as I could, but once my commute to and from choir practice became 1 ½ hours, I had to call it quits. Especially after my elderly car decided it might drop dead at any given time. I still love that church. It holds a special place in my heart. It’s just too far away.
Even if your vehicle is reliable, I still recommend trying to find a church home close to your home. It will make it so much easier to get up and get there for services and other events.
Take Your Time
I’ve heard you need to visit a church at least 3 times before making a decision. The first service you attend may be unusually good (or bad). Give them a decent chance to woo you.
I go to a pretty traditional church because that’s what I enjoy. I have friends who go to much more casual services. As long as they’re teaching God’s Word, I don’t really think it matters how they go about it. It will, however, matter to you if you don’t feel comfortable. So look for the kind of service that makes you feel at home.
Do Your Research
In my year-long search I found a nice little church full of nice people that I thought might do nicely. Then I took their membership class and discovered I had a serious conflict with their doctrine. So I nicely said goodbye and went on hunting. The point is, it’s better to find out these things sooner than later. I had so little invested at that point it was easy to walk away with no drama or hurt feelings on either side.
Pay Attention to the Pastor
Next I visited a church of the same denomination as my beloved former church. Again, I thought it might do. Then I realized the pastor rarely, if ever, quoted the Bible. I’m not sure he ever bothered to read it. The day he sarcastically mentioned in a sermon that, “some people give their burdens to Jesus,” making it clear what a stupid idea he thought THAT was I knew I was in the wrong place (again).
Just Because It’s a Great Church Doesn’t Mean it’s The One for You
For several months I visited a terrific church in my new hometown. Wonderful people, excellent preaching, a marvelous Body of Christ. I tried to get comfortable there. For several months, I tried. It just wasn’t the place for me. Loved ’em, had to leave ’em.
Ask for Suggestions
I finally wound up at my current church (Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX, in case you were wondering) via a conversation with Marilyn Meberg. I was telling her―actually, I was whining―about my church search and she invited me to Stonebriar. So I came . . . and I stayed. Is it perfect? No. Do I agree with everything? No. But I enjoy fabulous teaching, great music, and delightful people who welcomed me into their family.
So, April, the best advice I can give you is don’t give up. God has a place for you. Keep looking until you find it.
Anybody else want to chime in?