There are many reasons why you might be looking to find a new church: you’re a new Christian, you’re moving location or there’s been a significant change in circumstance. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find a new church quickly to ensure you continue to grow in your Christian faith. Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches” and being a part of a church is vital to remaining connected to Jesus, the vine. In this three part series on how to find a church, we will explore where to look for a church, what is the criteria for a good church and what to do once you’ve found a new church. In this article, we will explore where to look.
When setting out to find a church, start by looking local. Church isn’t just about attending a service on a Sunday, church is about family and investing yourself in relationships. Being available to help others when needed and spending quality time together is essential. That means being close by. You will likely struggle to feel connected and involved if you need to travel far to where your church building is based. Especially if your commute will affect your ability to attend services or midweek events.
Research & Recommendations
Start with a simple internet search to find out which churches are in your local area. Most churches will at least have a web page with information about their Sunday services. They may even have more information and resources, such as a statement of faith and a calendar of events. Sermon downloads can be particularly useful to get a feel for the teaching style and doctrinal beliefs. Start there with your research, but similarly, just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, neither should you judge a church by its website. Not every church will have someone with technical know-how. Remember, you’re looking for a community of Christians, not somewhere to buy your next pair of trainers.
Take recommendations on board. You may have trusted Christian friends who know of other churches in your area that they would recommend. If you are already connected with a church network, such as the FIEC or Co-Mission, then have a look at others in that same network that might be near you.
Select just one to three churches that are in your top list. Any more and you will begin to waste time and your search could feel endless. It may be that you will only identify one in your area that fits your criteria, and that’s absolutely fine (we will cover what that criteria should be in the next article in this series). The quicker you can find a suitable church, the better it will be for you and them.
After you’ve gathered information and done your research, it’s time to visit. If you can find their contact details online, why not email them to say you would like to attend and what day or event you’re planning to come to. This way the church staff or team can look out for you and make sure you are welcomed. You could go with a friend or family member to get a second opinion on how your first visit goes.
Remember, first impressions are important but they’re not everything. You don’t know what circumstances surround your first visit - a different preacher from usual, a special event, or lots of people away on that particular day, for example. Equally, remember that being part of a church community is not one-sided. Could you introduce yourself to others, instead of just waiting for people to speak to you first? If you can meet the pastor or one of the church leaders during your visit, then go and find them.
Finally, remember that no church is perfect. There may be many different pros and cons, but every church will have both, so don’t expect perfection.
In the next couple of articles in this series, we’ll consider more what criteria you should be looking for in a good church and what to do once you’ve found one.
By Susanne Kinnaird
Susanne is a marketing professional and has two young children with her husband, Stephen. She helps to run the media ministry at Cornerstone Church Kingston, is a Spurs fan at heart and loves to watch ballet, ballroom and all kinds of dance.