“I grew up in the same church my whole life and now that I have to choose my own church, realize I have no clue how to go about it. There are so many churches to choose from. How do I pick a good one?”
I’m so glad you asked. I really struggled with this when I was in college. Even when I finally picked a church and stuck with it, I never got involved. I would slide in half way through the worship set and duck out the second the service was over. And that’s just not what church is supposed to be about. So, things to consider.
1. Do you want to explore denominations?
Some of you don’t even know what a denomination really is. Others of you may be horrified I suggest this. I grew up in a nondenominational, Bible church. So I didn’t really know what the big deal was. I attended a Baptist and PCA church during college and grad school. You may find you really enjoy a certain denomination that you had never been exposed to, or maybe you strongly prefer the denomination you were raised in. Either way, if you’re interested, I encourage you to explore.
2. Do your research.
When exploring denominations and churches, you need to do your homework. Find out what a church believes. What is their doctrine? Is their teaching Biblical? You need to be confident in what your church stands for and what they are preaching on a regular basis.
3. Decide on 2-3 traits you want your church to exhibit or possess.
My traits were always biblical teaching, good worship, and a multi-generational church. However, in college, I had to pick a church that had 2 out of those 3. At the end of the day, I had to let go my standard of a church’s musical ability within the worship band. I don’t get to be a music snob when it comes to choosing a church.
A lot of times I see people having a list of 8-9 traits they want a church to posses. The problem with that is no church is going to be perfect and no church has been crafted exactly for you. It’s not about finding a church that meets all of your 20 needs/wants. It’s about finding a church that is solid where you can serve and be connected to other believers.
4. When visiting a church, I highly recommend that you go to the same church for about a month.
It’s really hard to judge a church off of one Sunday experience. You should go consistently for a few weeks to get the overall feel.
5. When you finally do choose a church–and you do have to choose, don’t let yourself church shop for too long–get in there and serve.
Join a Sunday School or small group. Serve in the nursery, children’s ministry, youth group, worship band, or be a greeter. Just do SOMETHING. The point of church is not for you to show up for an hour each Sunday. It is for you to get involved, to know other believers in your community, and to serve others. I didn’t do this because I was so involved in my school’s InterVarsity Ministry. I saw that as my community. Which is great, but I missed out on serving others younger/older than me and getting to be a part of a larger body of believers. It’s really easy to only ever be surrounded by your peers during college. I think we really miss out when we aren’t part of the bigger picture of God’s family. So get involved and love on people younger than you and seek out older folks to share their wisdom and experience with you.
Above all, just pick a church. No church is perfect. No church will be everything you want. Find one with your top 2-3 traits and get plugged in.