I’ve done it and you have, too. You’ve visited a church for the first time, looked around and checked everything out, and afterwards gave your review.
“I liked the worship.”
“The pastor was ok but the message was a little long.”
“The people seemed really friendly and nice.”
“They serve free Starbucks and Krispy Kreme!”
“They have rockin’ worship, great technology and videos… and fog machines!”
We are a society of critics, and thanks to the internet and social media, we like to share our opinions about everything. When looking for a church, we often end up deciding based on superficial things. The quality of the music, the technology, the level of the Pastor’s charisma, if the people seem like “our crowd,” programs and other factors. We all have preferences, and it’s important to find a church that’s a good fit but we have to be careful to not dismiss a church based on too many external factors. I would like to submit to you some suggestions and tips for finding a solid church community.
Pray. Be open. Get involved and serve. Look past the superficial. Base it on important things like Biblical teaching, authenticity, loving fellowship, discipleship, outreach, etc.
Prayer seems obvious, but I’m talking about praying for real. Quieting your mind, listening, and seeking God for the community that He wants you to worship with. Maybe God has a plan for you beyond seeking an entertaining Sunday morning production. Maybe God has a specific volunteer opportunity, or something He wants to teach you through other people in discipleship and mentoring. Maybe He just wants to stretch your idea of what church is all about.
Don’t let the name on the door deter you. I’ve walked into churches of certain denominations and been surprised that it wasn’t what I expected. I’ve also gone into churches that claim to be unique, edgy or not “church as usual,” but found the same old stale religion just wrapped in a prettier package. With so many options, you never know until you try.
The next time you bump into Christians that attend a different church, pay attention and listen for the reasons they give for liking it. If all they talk about are the rock star band, the pastor who is funny and always telling zingers and one-liners, the technology or fog machines…you have to wonder what substance lies beneath the surface. If you hear someone talk about genuine community, people who show love and encouragement to each other, sound doctrine, that their faith is growing closer to God and they are volunteering both in church and in the community…they may have something worth checking out.
Can you have both? Absolutely. I love a good rock style worship set, and no one wants to listen to a boring pastor drone on forever. I like technology, graphic design, the creative arts and church doesn’t have to be boring. But it’s important to keep our priorities straight when evaluating our church experience. And we don’t necessarily have to church hop until we find the right one. God may want us to try and improve our current church from within.
It begins with prayer. Let’s seek God, listen, and see what He has in store.