Church is not only a place to gather for worship, but also a place where new believers are welcomed into God’s family. While most Christians believe in going to church on Sundays, finding the right church can be hard, especially when you’re new to an area, you’re not familiar with the community or you’re searching for something deeper in your faith life. It can be even harder given there are hundreds of Christian denominations and traditions to choose from. Most of us know that the church we visit should believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that the Word of God is accurate and that we can find salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. But on top of these key beliefs, how do you know if the church you’re visiting is right for you?
Before we dive into figuring out if a church you’re visiting is right for you, it’s important to understand what the church is. While there is the visible church, the place where we physically gather to worship God, there is also the invisible church which represents a body of true believers, comprised of people who have been saved and redeemed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The church has many purposes including evangelism, worship and concerns of the world. Church isn’t just a place you gather on Sundays, it’s a place where we gather together regularly by faith. We are connected with other believers by faith, and while finding the right church is important, just being in a pew every Sunday doesn’t guarantee anything. However, being a member of the Body of Christ means a guarantee of Salvation. You should keep this at the front of your mind when searching for the right church for you.
The church you’re visiting should help you grow in your relationship with God. Ask yourself what you’re missing in your spiritual life? Why are you being drawn to a new church in the first place? Is the church you’re visiting providing a space where you can build up your relationship with Christ? All Christians aren’t looking for the same things in a church, so the search may look different for different people. If you’re not wowed each week by the sermon, or the song selection, that’s ok. While you should be drawn to the feeling you experience in the church, the main focus should be whether the church is clearly and actively preaching the Gospel and God’s Word. When you listen to the message each week, you should be challenged to grow in some way. If the church you’re in isn’t fostering spiritual growth, it probably isn’t the right church for you.
Another thing the right church will present are opportunities to serve God and use your gifts and talents to help others. There are all different types of people in churches, who come from all different walks of life, with different gifts to offer the body. If you’re a natural born-leader, the church is looking for you. If you’re a team player, the church is looking for you. And even if you’re an introvert, the church is looking for you. There are qualities that you can offer that others can’t. If you see the congregation has a particular need that you can satisfy, the church you’re visiting may be the place for you to shine and offer what others in the body may not be able to. It’s important that you a find a place where your spiritual gifts are welcomed, needed and valued, not because you deserve praise, but because it lifts up the body of Christ.
We are human, and with that comes a desire for strong relationships in the communities we enter. You should feel welcomed when you enter a church. No, you shouldn’t be searching for praises when you walk through the church’s front doors, but the vibe should be right. If the church doesn’t feel warm and welcoming, that very well could mean that it doesn’t consist of a large body of welcoming people. What many people love about a church is the sense of a close-knit community – being surrounded by people who genuinely lift you up, and encourage you every week. But don’t discount a church before you’ve had an opportunity to talk with the pastor and members of the body. Usually, you can tell from those interactions whether that particular church is a place you can see yourself belonging, growing and evolving.