Friday, October 16th, 2009 at 3:47 PM by Ruth Tynes / Online Editor / InTheTimes.com
Q: I just became a Christian, my parents aren't, and I want to start going to Church. I have my license, and my parents said that I can go if I drive myself. There are so many Churches in town... Any advice on choosing which Church to go to?
A: Congrats on your decision to follow Christ ! In Luke 15:7, Jesus lets us know that when just one person comes to salvation, there is much rejoicing in heaven ! How encouraging !
Double congrats for wanting to get plugged into a Church family right away ! Make sure to read our "Related Articles" at the bottom of this web page for more insight on Church attendance.
1) Find all of the Churches in your area There are several ways that you may want to approach this. First, you may want to drive around in your current community and look for Christian churches, get their names, then look their phone numbers up in the phone book. Or you may just want to look up Christian Churches in the phone book and start calling from there.
2) Check out their web site When you call Churches that you are interested in, ask if they have a web site. Visit their web site to learn more about the Church. Some Churches have sample videos of their services, this is a great way for you to preview a Church before attending a service live. While on their web site, you want to look for their Doctrinal Statement--this lets you know the general beliefs of the Church / denomination. Yes, even "non-denominational" Churches should have a Doctrinal Statement. Make sure to read our "Related Article" below on "Denominations" for more info on discerning Doctrinal Statements.
3) Is the Youth Ministry active? Look to see if there is a Youth Ministry. If so, does it appear to be active based on the web site. An outdated Church or Youth Ministry web site is a huge clue of an inactive ministry.
4) Is the Church active in the local community? Does it look like the Church is outreaching and not merely in reaching. Are there opportunities for you to become involved in community service projects.
5) Are there Small Groups? Small Groups provide opportunities for you to get to know others within the Church Body in a more informal setting. This is a great opportunity for you to find like-minded friends. The Youth Ministry should have Small Groups and after you graduate from High School, there should be College-Age / Young Adult small groups for you to become a part of.
6) Attend a Sunday service After you've reviewed the Church web sites, narrow your list down to Churches of interest. Get out your calendar and plan to attend a regular Sunday service for each Church of interest. Take note of special services (ie-holidays) and bear in mind that these services probably vary from the average Sunday service.
7) Observe the Church environment Is there a genuinely welcoming environment when you enter? Is there a clear place for new people to go to get more information about the Church? Does service start promptly at the time that is advertised? Do the services appear to be planned / organized? Does the service end within a reasonable length of time? Are the sermons Biblical? You won't always agree with the interpretation, but overall, are Biblically-based, relevant messages being preached. Does the Pastor give the congregation an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior?
8) Note your preferences What is the style of worship music? Most churches have a variety of services that you can attendsome with more contemporary worship music, traditional, or a blend. What is the style of dress? Services also vary between formal dress, casual, and a blend of the two.
9) Does it appear as if the Church Body is kept informed? Is there a structured program designed for those who seek to become new members of the Church? Is there a Christianity 101 class available for those who are new Christians or those who are seeking information about becoming a Christian? Is there a bulletin, video announcements, regular e-mail updates, etc.? Does it appear as if the Senior Pastor is actively and personally involved with the Church Body? (ie at the door after service, at the new members class, attends regular Church Fellowships, etc.) Is there an opportunity for Church Members to be involved in leadership at the Church? Is this information clearly published (ie Pastoral / Support Staff employment opportunities, Board nominations, soloists / musicians, Corporate Sponsorship opportunities, etc.) If it appears as if leadership information is hidden from the Church Members, the Church could have a clique spirit and you should beware.
10) Make a choice! Church isn't perfect! But regular attendance / involvement provides many opportunities (through positive and negative interaction) to grow as a Christian. After you've attended some Sunday services, narrow your list down once again. You may have to set aside a few months to continue to attend a variety of Church Services depending on how many Churches of interest are on your list. Attend each Church at different service times, pray about where to put down roots, and then make a final decision!
Great question! RUTH
* This is an excerpt from the book InTheTimes.com Q&A by Ruth Tynes. Copyright 2008. It may not be reprinted or posted without written permission from the author. Please contact for reprint permission.
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