You’ve visited twenty different churches but none seem to fit. Some Sundays, you’re excited to get up. Other times, you’d rather pledge membership to Bedside Baptist and call it a day. A desire for faith community is growing by the day and YouTube sermons are starting to feel supplementary at best. You want to experience God corporately.
I’ll say this: Finding the right church home is an important search and it takes time to find a faith space in which you can grow, serve, and thrive.
Let me suggest some non-negotiables when searching. We use a similar set when buying a house, why not when finding a church?
1. Clarity of Beliefs
Are the church’s mission and principles clear? There should be a mission statement or statement of belief on their website, church bulletin, or weekly programs, and it should be evident in their church culture.
2. Integrity of Leadership
Does the teaching align with accurate interpretation of Scripture? If the pastor never consults the Textbook, there are no guardrails to keep him from preaching and teaching their own ideas, thoughts, and opinions instead of God’s inspired word. Vet your church leadership—their temperament, leadership style, and if how they lead/teach enables or stifles spiritual growth. Look for preaching and teaching replete with scriptural reference. This shows the leader’s good stewardship of their office and helps in your own personal understanding, study, and devotion.
Churches are not bastions of groupthink. If God was creative enough to FORM each of us individually, we do ourselves and the rest of the world a disservice to voluntarily put ourselves on an assembly line. A church that encourages individuality, creativity, and exploration of gifts and callings is a church seeking to operate effectively.
4. A Culture of Service
Are there opportunities to grow in one’s ministry of serving others? Does the church have (or is it open to beginning) a ministry for members who need assistance? The first church was committed (as directed by Jesus) to caring for one another and their greater community. Show me a church culture with a service ministry and I’ll show you a church where selfishness won’t win.
5. Welcoming Spirit
Are members and leaders welcoming you into the space? Do they smile and seem happy to be present? It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth stating that if the church members or leaders don’t speak to you and you’re unsure of where to go or what to do, it may not be a place to put down roots.
The search is a sacred, intimate one. If you don’t feel led to join a particular church, don’t let anyone talk you into it. Wait for your heart and mind to agree. When you’re sure, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. The journey that awaits on the other side is a beautiful one.
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. For information, visit Fellowship’s website: www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.com.