Saturday, March 29, 2008

Finding a New Church- Starting from Scratch

When my husband and I have looked for a new church in the past, we've had our choices narrowed down for us because we are comfortable in our denomination and are not looking to change. When you're starting from scratch, you have a lot more choices to wade through, so it can be more difficult. Here are a few guidelines I'd suggest.

1. The absolute most important thing is to find a church that preaches and teaches only what matches up with what the Bible says, and all of what the Bible says. In other words, they shouldn't be teaching anything that's clearly contrary to Scripture and they shouldn't be leaving things out that are unpopular because they're afraid they won't attract as many people.

2. Pray about it. Ask God to lead you to exactly the right church in which to serve Him.

3. If you were raised in a particular denomination and felt comfortable in it, that might be a good place to start, either at the same church or a different church of the same denomination.

4. Ask around. Ask Christian friends about their churches and try visiting with them one Sunday. If you end up joining, you have the bonus of already knowing someone.

5. Do your homework. If there's a particular church or denomination you're interested in, chances are, they have a web site. There will probably be a section on the web site called "Our Statement of Faith" or something like that. Check that out and make sure all the tenets line up with Scripture. A lot of churches also have their pastor's sermons and/or their music on line, so you can get a feel for how things go on Sundays. You'll also be able to find out when services start, what kinds of programs are available, whether or not they have a nursery, etc.

6. "Interview" churches. Most pastors I know would be thrilled to death if a prospective visitor would call up and make an appointment to come in and talk to them about the church. Ask him whatever you want, find out what's required for membership, share your concerns, etc. He should be able to answer your queries openly and honestly. I would be very leery about attending a church if the pastor seemed secretive about general doctrinal issues, his own background, or church activities. Sometimes just meeting with the pastor will give you an idea of whether or not you want to give the church a try.

7. Try it on for size. You might fall in love with the first church you try, or it might be like shoe shopping and you have to try several before you find one that fits.

Don't give up. God has a place for you somewhere.

3 comments:

Judy said...

My husband and I have alarmed several pastors by asking to interview them and their staff. One thing that we note right away is whether or not the major staff members are willing to meet with us. Sometimes only the pastor meets. That can be a flag.

The first question we ask is for each person present to give a brief personal testimony. Later in the meeting we each give our own testimony.

Other questions are about the church's involvement in missions, how Sunday School is organized, activities for children/youth, etc.

Only once have we decided not to join a church after interviewing - but we visit a church several times before asking for an interview so we usually have a pretty good idea where the interview will go.

Kaye Dacus said...

I don't necessarily interview the whole staff. But I do make an appointment to meet with the pastor before committing to join a church. Of course, by the time I do that, I've been attending regularly for at least a month or more, have found a Sunday School class I like, and am starting to feel the desire to be involved in the church as a whole, not just one little segment of it.

When I joined Woodmont two years ago, I was already a regular choir member and had to figure out how to get down to the front from the choir loft without creating a huge scene the Sunday morning I joined. This doesn't sound like a big ordeal, but our services are televised on a local channel! :-)

Ken said...

Michelle,

You're right! the pastor would probably be excited to have someone set an appointment to ask about the church. As a pastor, I know I would. There may be something else to consider. It seems that most smaller churches (like I've pastored) are at a huge disadvantage, e.g. programs (or lack thereof), etc. As a pastor of a smaller church I continually pray that God would bring people who hear His call to serve Him...usually the person who chooses a church because they have sensed God calling them there is more likely to stay. Unfortunately, it seems as though many people look only for a church that can meet all their needs. Of course, we both know no such church exists. However, one of the ingredients of searching for a new church may be for the searcher to ask? Where does God want me and how does He want me to serve in this church. I'm sure He has some He would be willing to add to smaller churches. So, for those looking, YOU may be a part of what the small church needs; give us a chance!