We have visited several churches in the past 2 years, since we left our church home of 5 years when moving out of the city. It seems like an easy thing to find a new church. You find one that’s nice; welcoming people, decent music and inspiring preaching, and boom, you’ve found a church home. Right?
Finding a new church has been far harder than either Ben or I imagined, for many reasons.
Here are a few things I’ve learned from visiting churches (at least 8 in the past 2 years that I can think of). Things that I feel all Christians ought to know if they are part of a church, whether in leadership or just a member of the congregation.
1.) Make people feel welcome!! This is probably my biggest thing about churches. I can’t tell you how many of the 8 churches we’ve visited in these past couple of years have been put on my “NO” list because the people were so unwelcoming!
Coming into a new church is a really courageous thing to do. Whether you’re new to the area, a new believer (or not even one!) or just looking for a new church home, it can be incredibly intimidating to walk into a church where you don’t know anyone.
Please, if you’re part of a church and you notice someone new (if that’s possible!) muster up the courage and take a few minutes to introduce yourself. It could make or break that person/couple/family’s decision to come back. I’ll never forget moving to Chicago and walking into church (where we belonged for 5 years) and having this couple introduce themselves, ask our names and info and then remember our names the next time we came. Sealed the deal.
2.) Make a good church website! Technology is a big part of today’s society (whether you like it or not!) and for us, finding one on the internet is the biggest way we search. Some churches we’ve never even visited because they either (a) don’t have a website or b) their website is lacking so much information or is hard to navigate.
I wish more churches would take the time to put together a new-visitor friendly site that gives helpful information about what the service is like, what the components of the service are (worship, preaching, children’s ministry, etc.), and more.
3.) Invest serious time into your children’s ministries! This is one thing that is important to both B and I, because we’re entrusting our 3 precious kiddos into the church’s hands for an hour or more. If you are a children’s ministry volunteer, BE KIND to the children and the parents!! We left a church because of a children’s ministry teacher and coordinator. The teacher was rude and never ever welcomed my boys into the classroom or tried to learn their names, even knowing we were a new family. And when I approached the coordinator, in tears, after a particularly bad incident with the teacher, I was forced to go have a confrontation with the teacher right then and there and treated so rudely the next week that we walked out and never went back.
Again, it takes courage to enter a new church, for parents and children, alike! Seeing a welcoming face and smile makes a huge difference.
Also, I think churches should take lots of time to make their children’s church feel professional and well-organized. I want to know my children are safe and well-cared for and learning about Jesus in the best environment possible. Invest the time and I promise, your church will reap the benefits. Children are the future after all….
4.) Preaching. Not that any pastors will read this anyways. However! Wouldn’t it be nice to enter a church and hear some well-thought out, thought-provoking, truthful sermons? Can I get an amen? Too many churches have watered down, boring or downright unresearched, unthoughout sermons. It’s so incredibly refreshing when you hear a good one. Rare, as it is.
5.) Worship. I won’t say too much on this subject, as… I might say too much! All I can say is, it’s my favorite part of a church service. It can put me in a worshipful mood or a bad one. Take the time to make sure your music is good and varied and your singers can sing on-key!! And please, don’t get stuck in the 80s….
I’m sure there is so much I could say on the subject of church, however, these are the most important things that jump out at me. It’s too easy to make church into a business, or a private social circle and forget that it’s the Lord’s House. A place to worship Him. A place to worship with fellow Believers, old and new. A place to set aside your to-do list at the door and focus on what is the most important thing in life: Loving Jesus and becoming more like Him.
Take a few minutes the next time you’re in church and look around, greet some one new and really try to remember their name. Thank someone who does the children’s ministry week in and week out (whether you have a child there or not), smile at someone and try to make your church a little more of a home.
It could make a big difference to someone and I think it honors the One whom church is about in the first place.