Picking a church is like …. nothing else. There are so many denominations, congregations and sects to choose from. No one knows exactly how many denominations exist, but everyone agrees they number in the tens of thousands. And within some of the larger denominations are different subgroups. Each faith-based community is different and attracts a different type of membership.
A church is a group of like-minded people who share a set of beliefs, values and norms. In most of the cases, the members feel as though they belong to a large, extended family and offer support, encouragement and emotional and material assistance to each other.
Church communities worship and learn together. Growing in faith should be one of the goals in attending church services. The right church can provide a foundation for your spiritual life. It could also be a boon for your social and personal life.
When searching for a church, pray to God for guidance. Then determine what setting is important to you. Are you looking for a less-formal, more modern church with energetic sermons? Do you need an intimate community or a mega-church?
Do you have a particular faith? If you are a Methodist, Baptist or Lutheran, being surrounded by people with similar beliefs will be important. Or, do you prefer a non-denominational church?
Once you understand your needs, conduct some research. Ask friends and relatives about the churches they attend. People are often happy to discuss their experiences with you. Once you have found some possibilities, visit several churches. Attend services with a positive attitude and ask questions of the members. Gather as much information as you can. Sometimes having a friend along will help you feel more at ease. Speak to people sitting near you, or speak to the pastor after the service. Take home any literature offered.
Afterward, reflect on your experience. Does the church’s statement of belief match yours?
Sometimes churches are known for their service to the community. If volunteer work is important to you, find a religious community that has programs for soup kitchens, homeless shelters or even local parks.
Were you comfortable sitting in the church or were you itching to leave? Did the pastor hold your attention or were you bored?
Knowing your values will help you select the right church. Worship and spirituality are deeply personal. Sometimes different family members may attend different churches.
When you find a church where the pastor or minister seems to be speaking to you and the congregation feels like family, you have found the place where you will be the most comfortable and get the most out of the experience.