Looking for a Church? 7 Things to Shorten Your Search
Looking for a church, especially in the busy Northern Virginia area, can be overwhelming, confusing and even disheartening. And time consuming! So here are a few things to consider that might help you narrow the search.
1. Decide together…
…before you leave the house. Who will be attending? Sitting down together and deciding what is important and what isn’t, before you even try the first church, can help to keep everyone focused on the fact that you’re looking for a church that will be a great place for the whole family.
2. Realize that no church is perfect.
Churches are full of people and people are all imperfect. Keep in mind that you will probably not find the church that ticks every box.
3. What’s important?
Is denomination important? Finding a church close to home? Diversity? Music? Deciding early what matters and what doesn’t can keep you from focusing on little things. I’ve found myself commenting, “well, the chairs are comfortable!” hint: there are more important things! Like coffee. Coffee is important.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve already realized that online research can be a powerful tool to help keep you from wasting your time. Using your search engine to find “churches near me” or “best churches in <your city>” puts huge amounts of information at your fingertips. You can listen to recent sermons, read about what they believe and teach, their affiliations and where their focus lies. Maybe they have a fantastic mission program or a huge young adults program. Read the reviews – google and yelp reviews will give you a perspective you might not find on the website.
5. Try and then try again
Try at least 3 times, ideally in a row. Especially in the summer, one Sunday might not look like the others. Giving the church a few Sundays can help you see the bigger and more consistent picture of leadership, attendance and the people.
6. Church = people.
Keep in mind that the church isn’t the building, it’s the people. Do you like the way you’re treated? Do you hear about Jesus, not just from the pastor,, but also from the “regular joe’s” you meet at the coffee dispenser or sitting next to you? Are these people that will help you grow in your faith? Pay attention to how the people behave and live. Extend yourself to talk to people to find out what they’re really like.
7. Remember the big picture.
You shouldn’t feel comfortable just sitting in the pews on Sunday and enjoying the entertaining kids’ programs. The church should help you to grow more like Jesus. Interesting sermons, fun programs and exciting music are wonderful to have. But more importantly, you and your family should be inspired and challenged to be active in serving God and loving others.