I’ve been a pastor for 12+ years and in that time I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with how to find a church. Or more specifically, how to find the right church for them.
If that’s you, if you are currently struggling to find a church, I want to give you some practical tips. First, I want to address how to figure out what a church is about and if it’s a good fit for you. And then we’ll end with some practical tips in your search.
Let’s dive in!
If you are considering leaving your church check out: How To Know When To Leave A Church (and 5 things to do before changing churches)
Table of Contents
6 Questions To Ask When Looking For A Church
Most people simply choose churches to attend based on their gut feelings. And while that can be of use, relying solely on our feelings doesn’t give us the full picture.
So I want to give you some questions to ask when looking for a church to help you dig a little deeper. These will help you better understand the health of a church and if you’ll be a good fit.
Now, it’s important to note that there’s no such thing as a perfect church. All churches will fall short and let you down at some point. No church will pass the test, so if you are looking for the perfect church you won’t find one. Why? Because they let people like you and me in there.
While you shouldn’t wait for the perfect church, you should look for a healthy church. And these questions will help you see their health and their direction.
1. Do The Messages Connect With My Life?
There’s different styles of preaching and teaching, and it’s important to find one that connects with you. If you are sitting through every service bored you won’t grow. A good church should connect Biblical truth to your life.
When you visit a church pay attention to the teaching style. Is it centered around the Bible? And were you able to learn from it and apply it to your life?
2. How Is This Church Serving Their Community?
There’s too many churches that simply exist for the people within their walls; those churches aren’t going anywhere. When you visit a church look for how they are reaching and serving their community.
Now, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to this. Some churches might hold community events while others train their people to individually serve their community. There’s no right or wrong way, and when different churches take different approaches it’s better for the community.
The important thing to remember when finding a church is to find one that is doing something for their community.
3. Do I Resonate With Their Vision?
Every church has (or should have) a vision. It sets the direction they are going and establishes their unique identity. Their vision is what God has specifically called them to do.
Essentially it says, Here’s where we are going and here’s what we are about. Let me let you in on a secret… While almost every church has a vision, many don’t actually live out their vision.
When looking for a church find one whose vision resonates with you and that’s actually living it out. Look through their website, read about their programs, even ask a pastor or member how they live out their vision.
4. How Do They Equip Their People?
In the past several decades, we have bought into the belief that the pastor(s) do the work for the church and the members come and partake. We view the church as a restaurant that exists to serve the regular patrons. And if the service is good we bring our friends and leave a tip. But if it’s not we leave for the restaurant across town.
The problem is the church isn’t like a restaurant; it’s more like a gym. It exists to train, equip, and challenge the body of Christ to live in light of the Gospel.
When you are looking for a church don’t look for the church that serves you best; look for the church that is equipping its people to live in light of what Jesus has done.
5. Can I Find Community Here?
One of the primary functions of the church is to create community. We need people in our life to challenge us, encourage us, hold us up, and sometimes kick us in the pants. Life was not meant to be lived alone and following Jesus by ourselves is impossible.
So when you are looking for a church, look for one in which in you can connect with. Can you find your people here?
This won’t happen over night, but can you see deep relationships forming over years?
6. Are There Ways For Me To Use My Talents Here?
Being a part of a church isn’t a spectator sport; it requires participation. It’s give and take.
The reality is God has given you unique skills and passions, and it’s up to you to figure out how to use them to benefit the people around you and the church you belong to.
So when you are trying to find a church, look for one where you can use your unique talents.
How To Find A Church (4 Tips)
The above questions will help you dig beyond what your feelings are when you are looking for a church. And I would encourage you to screen shot, bookmark this page, or copy and paste the questions into your notes so that you can better evaluate the churches you visit.
I want to end by giving you some practical tips on how to choose a church. These will help you in finding a church.
1. Visit Several Churches (and evaluate each one)
It’s important when you are looking for a church to try several out. Search for “churches near me,” look through their websites, social media, and even watch a few clips of their messages. Come up with a list of 4-5 churches that you like and visit them all.
Ask the above questions as you visit them and consider which one will help you grow in your faith and where you can use your gifts and skills.
2. Attend A Few Months Before Committing
Don’t feel pressured to jump into everything on week 1 or even month 1. Attend consistently for a month or two before you make a decision. This will help you get a better feel for how things work and how you would fit in.
Many churches offer a new members type class; those are often a really good place to hear more in-depth about the church (plus you’ll often get a free lunch!).
3. Ask Questions
You can learn a lot from observing, but not everything. You need to spend some time investigating, be curious about things. You can ask other members, someone on staff, or even the lead pastor in most places. But don’t just go and observe, ask questions.
4. Don’t Get Hung Up On Nonessentials
Having worked in a church for a long time, one of my favorite things is meeting people new to the church. I love hearing people’s stories and what brought them in. One of the questions I always ask is, Why are you here? How’d you find us? A common response is, Well my church, they stopped this ministry. Or they don’t teach this obscure theological position anymore. Or they started doing x… Whatever x is. Many of those things are nonessential; they aren’t really that important. So don’t get caught up on things that don’t matter.
Now I know there are some issues and traditions that might be very important to you. Write down the few things that are essential and let go of the rest. Otherwise you will just end up jumping from church to church and never finding a place to settle in.
Closing Thoughts On Finding A Church
You will never find a perfect church. You will never find a church that does everything the way you like it. At the end of the day, that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about you anyway. Church is about being a part of a community that is following Jesus together. It is about encouraging and challenging one another. It is about being the body of Christ.
So don’t look for the perfect church. But do look for a healthy church. One that you can find community in. One that you are in agreement with the vision. Be equipped by. Be used in. Grow. Find community. And trust the leadership.
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