I got to thinking about this the other day and decided to Google “How To Choose A Church Home.” The search took .32 seconds and you can click on the links below for a smattering of what others suggest regarding about how to look for a church home. Afterward I’ll make a few suggestions for if you ever move to another city or sense God’s direction on this matter.
Now for a few thoughts of my own…
Precursor #1. Make it a serious matter of prayer. Ask God to guide you in your search. Follow His leadership. I do not suggest making a change hastily!
Precursor #2. The church you choose to join must be in response to God’s call. Take it as seriously as you would other decisions of eternal consequence.
Precursor #3. Take your time. Visit a church for at least four weeks in a row to get a sense and feel of the Spirit’s presence and the people who attend. I suggest Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, and the Wednesday night service.
Consideration #1. Take special note of, and evaluate, the preaching/teaching of God’s Word from the pulpit. This is one of the most important ways you grow in your faith. If the messages are not challenging and Biblicaly sound, then move on to where you are fed solid meals from Scripture that will strengthen you. DO NOT compromise this consideration in favor of the others that follow.
Consideration #2. Talk to the pastor. Ask direct questions about his beliefs, doctrine, and theology because he will be the one you listen to most often for spiritual growth. One reason for attending church is for you and your family grow and make disciples of all people. The pastor is the main one who will be discipling you in this area. So be like the Bereans as found in Acts 17:11 where it is written, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Consideration #3. What opportunities are there for you and your family to engage in ministry by putting into practice your gift, call, and passion from God?
Consideration #4. Take special notice of the corporate worship experience. You can tell a lot about what the people in a church are like in their faith by how they worship. What does the look on the faces of the people in the choir communicate ? Listen and watch those around you as they worship (This in not to judge them or their worship style but rather to discern if their worship is Spirit filled or just mechanical.). The reason this is important is because over time you will worship as they do.
Consideration #5. After the others are given the highest priority, take into consideration what is available for your children and youth regarding discipleship. Are those programs mainly fun things, or is there a decided effort to disciple them in Christ? If discipleship is lacking, find a place that compliments what you teach your children at home about the Christian faith. Note: It is not wise to let the children’s or youth programs be the determining factor in choosing a church. It is part of the decision, but not THE determining factor.
NOTE: Scrutinize the security measures in place for children and infants who stay in the nursery or children’s church during worship. If the church is lax in this area this is a big negative since the safety and security of your children cannot be overlooked.
Consideration #6. How involved is the congregation in ministry to the community and missions? What opportunities are there for evangelism? Does the church have a vision for the future? Do they take membership seriously?
Consideration #7. Do you get a sense of genuine joy from the people who attend there? If there is not joy throughout the congregation that tells you a lot about their personality. If the people you encounter during your visit are not genuinly interested in you (Which is more than “How are you doing? Glad to see you…” with a handshake.), then you will get a good sense of the overall spiritual health of the congreation.
Last. Don’t leave a church just because there is controversy. Until Jesus comes back there will always be some kind of difficulty in every church because we are all sinners. No one should leave a church simply because they are mad. Leaving one for another is something that should only be done under the most severe and extreme of circumstances… yet sometimes it is necessary. It is best to stay and work through difficulties if possible. Leaving a church must be just as much in response to God’s leadership as going to a church is following God’s call. Meditate upon this point over time and with great patience…
Conclusion: I know that is a lot to consider (And there are many other things I could suggest), but this is a good start. After all, do we not seek to be at least as wise when we purchase a house or choose a mate or make other important decisions? While no congregation or church or minister is perfect… when you seek God’s direction for finding a church home, He will guide you to a place where you are comfortable and sense His call as you work through these considerations.
May God guide you as you seek His call for your life.