Dear Church Hunter,
I write to you today letting you know you’re not alone. A lot of us are out there searching for a new home too. I’m currently on the hunt to find the place that I can believe in, have confidence in, dive deep in, have community in, worship in, grow in… It can be a tough challenge finding a church. Every time you find a new one you feel a little awkward because you’re getting the lay of the land trying to figure out what’s going on. You’re also trying to get yourself out of your comfort zone to see if this is a congregation you want to be apart of. Sometimes you end up in a place you had no idea what you were getting yourself into and it’s not what you believe in at all then you feel like you couldn’t run away faster. On the other hand, there’s that time that you just walk through those front doors and you feel the Holy Spirit telling you, “Yes.” As I’m on this hunting journey I’ve figured out a few things that are some red flags, some good indicators, and some things that are just food for thought.
1. Figure Out Your Basics… This is the biggest, first and foremost thing you have GOT TO FIGURE OUT. If you want to find a place that coincides with your beliefs then you need to figure out those basic beliefs. Study up! Read the Bible! Look up TRUTH! Figure out what you believe (again, hopefully it’s Biblical, truth based beliefs) and then go from there. You will never be satisfied with a church until you find out your own faith.
2. Read Their Website… You will find this is an early indicator for you finding your fit. Read carefully because there could be one sentence snuck in those paragraphs that you have a huge disagreement on that could be a decision factor on whether you go or not. This also a time you can’t say you know the church based on how good their instgram posts are or if their website is not mobile friendly or not etc. The website is just a good place to start on your hunt.
3. The 4 Walls… You can’t judge a church by their walls. There are some seriously old churches out there that just don’t feel like rebuilding that may still have some traditional style type worship, and sermons, but then a lot of the time they do have contemporary styles. You never know what the inside has to offer if you don’t walk in.
4. Life Group… When I go searching, a certain thing that I look for is if they have a Life Group on Sunday mornings and/or weekly Bible study that fits my age/life stage. *Disclaimer, this is my personal preference—I don’t like waking up late on a Sunday going to church for about 45 minutes to an hour and going home. I like waking up knowing I’m about to go have a discussion with a group of people that are in the same life boat as I am. I love being in a smaller setting type group that I can do life with that fully understand where I’m coming from. While we all can understand what each other is going through on our Christian walks trying to figure out how to do all this. That’s a big part of community is finding these Sunday morning groups and weekday groups that you can meet with that you can grow in Christ together with.
5. Worship time. Yes or No?… Obviously worship has lots of different sources. Prayer is worship. Singing is worship. Acts of kindness that is glorifying to Him is worship. Whenever I’m talking about this certain kind of worship, I’m talking about the kind that involves usually a choir/band that you sing with before a sermon. Some people flat out don’t like singing. Some people don’t really feel like worship time is their closest connection with God. They feel like it’s other things like quiet time, etc. and that’s perfectly ok! Personally, worship is a key thing that I look for in a church. I want to feel comfortable there. I want to feel like I can open my heart and truly focus on God because of the way I enjoy and can relate to that church’s way of leading the worship. So, when you’re hunting you need to figure out if their worship style is something you can enjoy so you can fully be in worship to God.
6. The Pastor… When you sit down to think about it, the pastor is a major determinate if people stay or not. Please let it be known I am not speaking about Joel Olsteen here people. Yes, I know the man loves Jesus, but he is not the ideal pastor or shouldn’t be the poster child for this when a pastor comes to mind. I’m talking about the pastors that are passionate about what they do. They’re knowledgable in truth, caring people, that love their congregation, and wants to reach the outside world to share the Good News of Jesus. Whenever you’re searching for a church home sit down to listen to what the pastor has to say. Do you agree with what he preaches? Do you like his style of speaking? Can you connect with him and what he preaches about? Do you enjoy his sermons? Are you learning something from those sermons? You gotta think about that if you’re going to enjoy going to church you have to understand that you’re going to be listening to this person speak about 70% of the time that you’re there so I hope you enjoy it and believe he’s speaking truth.
7. You Sit Down In The Pew and You Find Out You Disagree… There have been many times I have sat down in a pew and immediately knew that I was not meant to come to that place again. It’s not that I hate a church or anything like that, it’s just sometimes you get a vibe or you just immediately know you’re not excited about being there. It’s kinda like picking out a car, sometimes it’s the first look that you just no… Oh heck no! Here’s the thing though… At least give it a listen. I think it is a very healthy thing sometimes to hear a different perspectives side. I’m not saying convert to ways you don’t believe is the truth. I’m just saying, have listening ears. You never know what kind of information, disagreed on or not, that could help you understand someone’s position someday.
Ultimately church hunting can be scary. It can be awkward, uncomforatble, fun, exciting, eye opening… It can be a lot of things and it can be a lot of work. I know I’ve been church hunting here for over 6 weeks now and I’m exhausted. I miss that community connection. I miss that place of feeling at home. I miss the consistency, the people, the sermons, the volunteering… It will all come one day, if I keep trying. So as I write to you today, remember to talk to God about this. Don’t just pray a prayer. Have a conversation with Him and tell Him what’s on your heart… Ask him questions about this venture. Ask for guidance in where to go. Seek Him for answers with an open, willing heart, and He will be there for you. Lastly, church hunter, remember that a church isn’t just a buidling with a steeple. Church is the body of Christ. Church is the people that are the heart of that place you’re searching for. Go out and be the church, don’t give up, find your home, ask for His help, and be happy where your feet are.
Your Fellow Church Hunter