Ask The Chaplain

Ask The Chaplain

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"How I Find a Good Church?"

Finding a church can be a difficult, time consuming experience. It often takes a great deal of patient persistence, especially if you are looking for a church after moving into a new community. Usually, you can only visit one, or possibly two churches a week, so the search for a church can drag out over a period of months. Here are some practical steps to remember, along with questions to ask yourself, as you work your way through the process of finding a church.

Here's How:
What denomination am I looking for?
There are many to choose from, such as Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, and the list goes on and on. If you are interested in a Non-denominational or Inter-denominational church, there are many different types of these as well, such as Pentecostal, Charismatic, Fundamental, etc.
To learn more about Christian denominations visit this study of the various Christain faith groups.

What are my beliefs?
It’s important to understand the doctrinal beliefs of the church before joining. Many people become disillusioned after investing a great deal of time in their church. You can avoid this disappointment by looking closely at the church's statement of faith. Before joining be sure the church effectively teaches the Bible. If you’re not sure, ask to talk with someone about this. Some churches even offer classes or written material to help you understand the church’s doctrine.

What type of service structure do I prefer?
Ask yourself, “Would I feel more comfortable with a structured liturgy, or a more informal service order?”

What type of worship best suits me?
Worship is the way we express our love and appreciation to God, our awe and wonder of His works and His ways. Consider what style will allow you to most freely express your worship to God. Some churches have contemporary music, some have traditional. Some sing hymns, others sing choruses. Some have full bands, others have orchestras and choirs. Some sing gospel, rock, hard rock, etc.

What types of ministries and programs are offered?
You want your church to be a place where you can connect with other believers. Some churches offer a very simple ministry approach and others extend an elaborate system of classes, programs, productions and more. If you’re single and want a church with a single’s ministry, be sure to check into this before joining.

Do I prefer a small or a large church?
Some small church fellowships are unable to offer many ministries and programs, while larger ones can support an array of opportunities. However, a small church can provide a more intimate, close-knit environment that a large church may not be able to cultivate as effectively. Becoming relational often requires more effort in a large church. These are things to consider when looking at the size of the church.

What type of attire would I be most comfortable wearing to church?
In some churches tee-shirts, jeans, and even shorts, are appropriate. In others a suit and tie or dress would be more appropriate. In some anything goes, so ask yourself, "What is right for me - dressy, casual, or both?"

Call before visiting.
Next, take some time to list specific questions you would want to call and ask the church before visiting. If you take a few minutes each week to do this, it will save you time in the long run. For example, if the youth programs are important to you, put that on your list and ask specifically for information about them. Some churches will even mail you an “information packet” or “visitor’s packet,” so be sure to ask for these when you call.

Visit church Web sites.
You can often get a good “feel” for the church by visiting their Web site. Most churches will provide information about how the church got started, doctrinal beliefs, a statement of faith, plus information about the ministries and outreaches they offer.

Make a checklist.
Before visiting, make a check list of the most important characteristics about the church you hope to find. Then rate the church according to your check list when you leave. Keeping notes will help you compare and decide later. If you are visiting many churches, as time passes you may have trouble keeping them straight. This will help you keep a record for future reference.

After visiting at least 3 times, ask yourself these questions:
Was the church a place I can connect with God and worship him freely? Did I learn about the Bible? Was it a place where fellowship and community are encouraged? Are people's lives being changed? Is there a place for me to serve in the church and opportunities to pray with other believers? Does the church reach out through missions (sending missionaries and financial giving) and local outreach?

Begin your search now.
Here are online resources to help you start your search for a church right now!
Attributes of a Good Church
Christian WebCrawler Church Directory and Search Engine
Net Ministries Church Directory Search

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