You’ve finally found a church that ticks all the boxes. Now is the time to make a decision and stop your search. You can see that the people seem happy here and you’d like to join in. How do you make it from the fringes of this new community into the heart of family life? In this final article of a three part series on how to find a church, we’re looking at what to do once you’ve found a good church.
Commitment is key for you new church
Despite taking some time to choose a church, in one sense, that’s the easy part. Making a commitment to your new church, to yourself and to God, is much harder work. We can be very fickle beings. Changing our minds and our actions often depends simply on how we feel at that moment. A flakey attitude can also seep into our behaviour towards church. Ask yourself this, will I make an effort to attend church meetings at all given opportunities? Even when I’m tired? Even when I get a better offer? Even when I just don’t want to? If you don’t commit to saying yes to these questions now, you will really struggle to build relationships, remain on the edges and even lag in your faith. It will take too long to get integrated into the life of this church and in the end you might just give up. Without commitment you will certainly falter.
Roll up your sleeves in your new church
Church life can be super busy. If there are activities and ministries going on, then there are always things to do and ways to serve. The best approach is to get involved as soon as possible. Don’t wait to be asked, instead offer up your time in whatever way you can. Speak to your church leaders about any particular skill set or interest that you have, but, most importantly, ask for areas where they need help. You could be an amazing singer, for example, but if the church already has four full bands and not enough people on the stewarding team, then why not do that instead? Humility and service go hand in hand. You’ll cultivate an attitude that is generous and responsible, rather than self-serving and consumerist. Getting actively involved is also the best way to meet new people, enjoy shared experiences and build relationships.
How much to give or take in a new church
Starting at a new church can be really exciting, but at times it can also be lonely and awkward. You may not feel completely integrated into your new church for a while. The first year can be particularly tricky and it may be tempting to leave if you don’t feel happy. Being realistic and honest with yourself will help prevent a fall-out. Be aware that it can take a long period for people to get to know you well. Turning new acquaintances into friends will only come through time. There may even be some misunderstandings or frictions. People are messy and Christians are no exception. We can all create awkwardness, say the wrong thing, get frustrated with others, unintentionally or not. This is where love, forgiveness and reconciliation come in. Remember how God called you to become a Christian, remember how Jesus took the guilt of your sin and brought you into his kingdom? He calls us now to follow his example; to love, forgive and bear with each other as Christians together. Expect to do this in your imperfect church, and expect that you are not perfect either. Don’t be easily offended and don’t leave on bad terms. Pray for your church leaders, it’s members and yourself to live this out, just as Jesus Christ himself prayed for unity in the church (John’s gospel chapter 17).
Finally, your church can be and should be absolutely amazing. In many places in the Bible, God’s people are described as His beautiful bride, His delight and a reflection of His glory (for example see Revelation 21, Zephaniah 3:17, 1 Peter 2:9). As we collectively love, serve and worship him together, we demonstrate this truth. It means God’s grace and His power are at work in us through our church. It means that our church is something glorious, beautiful and eternal to be a part of. It means that our church is more than worth our own love, effort and commitment. Let this encourage you as you step further into your new church this week.
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.