Looking for the right church after you and your family have moved to a new city or have decided to attend a church that more accurately embodies your religious beliefs can definitely be a challenge. If you’ve made the decision to go to a new church, there are several factors to consider before you settle on a church home. Whatever your reason is for switching to a new church, you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable with your new congregation, and that your spiritual needs are being met.
Figure out what you really want in a church
Have a discussion with your family to find out what everyone is looking for in a new church home. Do you want to start attending a church that is smaller than your former congregation, so that you can get to know more people and feel as though you’re really contributing to the church? Or, would you rather attend a church with a bigger congregation?
Your children may also want to go to a church where there are lots of young people, so that they can make new friends, and be more motivated to participate in church activities. Of course, you’ll want a church where the members are friendly and welcoming as well; you can usually get a feel for the church’s congregation after visiting a few times and observing how many people notice that you’re new, and welcome you sincerely.
You should also decide how active you want to be in church, as this will help you to decide which new church to attend. For instance, if you’re used to being involved in the community, you’ll probably want to join a church that is known in the city for its volunteer efforts. If you want to be a part of certain groups in church that will celebrate your talents, such as music groups or youth mentoring programs, check to make sure that the churches you’re considering have what you need in order to feel as though you’re really an important part of the organization.
Think about your spirituality.
Although one of the main reasons why people switch churches is to avoid feeling like they have to shell out large amounts of money each service, your spirituality should be the number one thing to consider when you decide to change church homes. The purpose of church should be to fellowship with those who have similar religious beliefs in order to learn more about your faith and strengthen your convictions. So when you’re switching churches, you’ll want to visit as many times as you need to in order to decide whether or not your new potential church home will meet your spiritual needs.
Pay attention to the way you feel visiting certain churches, and decide whether or not the teaching styles or outreach tools in the church really appeal to you. While you shouldn’t expect everything in a church to be perfect or to your liking, you should make sure that you’re spiritual awareness is being developed, and that you are being taught the tools you need in order to live a more productive life.
Be sure that you can understand the pastor and basic teachings of the church before you make the commitment to join. And, it’s not a crime to assess whether or not the sermon is actually interesting to you. You deserve to enjoy church as much as you can, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be improving your spiritual life by forcing yourself to listen to a sermon that you can’t relate to your everyday life.
Finding out which elements of a church service really ‘speak’ to you will help you to decide on a church family as well. For instance, if you love music and find that you understand spiritual concepts and ideas more when they are set to music, you’ll want to find a church that celebrates this. If you prefer lectures and are an auditory learner, a church where lots of classes, sermons, and speeches are given will serve you well. The reason for different religions, as well as different churches within a religion, is for each family or each individual to find ways to maintain a healthy spiritual life, so do what’s best for your spirituality and find a church where you know you’ll learn-and teach-the most.
Discuss the real purpose of church with your family
Different people have different reasons for attending church, so having an honest discussion with your family about why church is important in the household will definitely help when it comes to choosing the right church.
For starters, discuss how often your family attends church. Is it a weekly event in your household, or do you only go to church during holidays, or when there’s a big family event, such as a baby blessing or a wedding? If you don’t attend church often, this will play a part in which new church you choose, depending on whether or not you want to change the frequency of your church attendance.
Next, talk about how much your family depends on church for spiritual direction and guidance. Are you completely relying on the pastor or other clergy members to tell you what to do in order to be a ‘good person’, or do you apply spiritual concepts learned at church to your personal life on a daily basis? Talk to your family about the role you really want church to play in your life, and how moving to a new church will serve these purposes. Discuss whether or not you want to use church as a tool to bring the family closer together, enhance every family member’s spiritual understanding, and/or give each family member constructive activities to do during the week. The right church home could provide you with lessons, classes, and activities that will help you understand the members of your family better, and could end up making the family stronger overall.
When you finally decide on a new church, don’t hesitate to get involved right away! Keep in mind that you have a lot to do with the way you feel about certain experiences, and the more effort you make the enjoy your new church home, the more you’ll find your new church home spiritually uplifting and rewarding.