How to Find a Church for your Family

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Finding a church for your family can be tough. I want to offer you some advice from someone who have to change churches a few times in my life. My family and I have had a small window into the lives of people who do not go to church on a regular basis. Let me give you my church visiting resume so you can understand my perspective.
When my dad became a pastor in the 90s my family and I left our home church and we began going wherever my father was pastoring. I was able to be at my home church for a few extra Sundays cause my grandma was a member there but then my dad changed his mind and I joined the family in the new church. My dad pastored in different churches on an average of 4 years. We moved around quite a bit and the way we joined the church was unique. Because we’re the minister’s family, you basically roll up your sleaves and get to serving. I was taught that regardless of who is in charge, we serve the Lord Jesus. This advice would pay off in my college years.
When I came to the States I joined the denomination of my childhood and remained involved with them until I met the love of my life. Zeke grew up in a different denomination than I and he worked at a different denomination on top of that. Visiting him in his church was always fun. I learned a lot about their culture.
When I moved to North Carolina, I visited a few churches before I landed in the church where Zeke and I would stay for 5 years.
We moved to Texas because of Zeke’s job as a worship pastor and during our Texas years we have visited different churches.

Here are my tips for people who want to visit a church (or a Bible Study):

Go to their website. You have a right to know what you’re getting into. If they have a Podcast, listen to it. Put the address on your GPS of choice and show up to see what you get. I'm a firm believer on this rule.

When you get to the church of your choice, look for the Guest Welcoming area. If you are an introvert who does not have kids, go ahead and blend in. I’m sure there will be a flow of people going to the Sanctuary.

If you have kids and you choose to do so, take them to the kids area. Most places have a place where you can check your kids in. The best places ask for your number so they can call or text in case your kid needs you. Most places have trained staff and they are good about making sure the kids have a good time. I give invisible bonus points to churches who have their check in in a computer or iPad. They know that when you have to manually fill out 6 sheets of paper for 3 kids (true story) takes up A LOT of time. The world has gone digital and when the church effectively helps families in this area, is pretty awesome.

Different churches have a different culture (or vibe) about them. Notice what their vibe is (relaxed, formal, etc) and make that part of your decision making process. Don't go somewhere your family doesn’t feel good about. I also advise you to give a church more than one chance until you make a final decision. I’ve given myself a 2-Sunday policy when I was single. Now that I have a family we all share our experiences and we go from there. Unless you have a terrible experience, give yourself 2 Sundays.

A little bit more on the vibe of a church. I visited a prominent larger church in my community and my kids actually enjoyed their experience in Sunday School. The service was a bit too formal for me. The kids didn’t complain but that vibe was not where I felt I needed to be. Still, great church, amazing ministry but it was not the place for me. Many months later we visited a smaller church in the community. The kids enjoyed their experience (they’re not picky I guess) and I noticed that the vibe was way more relaxed. I’m sure most places don’t do this but when they took a break after worship they told us to go grab strong, free coffee. They had me at Jesus plus coffee. Seriously, I took other things into consideration such as the spiritual part of their worship service and the teaching part. Noticing the vibe of a place is important so don’t bypass that key impression.

God is really good about point me in the right direction when it comes to churches or Bible Studies. I live in a metropolis full of opportunities for religious experiences. The fact is that my family only has 168 hours in a week and we can’t possibly do everything and belong everywhere.
The only way to close on a place that makes you feel at home is to take the big step and give it a try. Give yourself 2 weeks to make the decision to stay or move on. Notice the vibe, but more importantly, notice how your spirit feels after being there. I have felt refreshed every time I go where God has led our family.
Still, visiting a new place is no joke. I understand it can be nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time.

If you are looking for a new place, go confident that God loves you and more than anyone else, He wants you to find a place you can learn more about Him.