I have made three cross-country moves in the past five years with jobs and a new husband taking me from Michigan to Colorado and then to Minnesota (and now back to Michigan). Each move has meant finding a new church home. Along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two about “church shopping” (who came up with this phrase anyway?) and wanted to share my story in hopes of helping others who may be looking for a new church home sometime soon.
Do Your Homework.
When I moved to Colorado Springs, I didn’t know anyone so I was starting my search from scratch. I began searching churches online and made a list of ones to check out based on their websites. I started at the top of my list and actually ended up attending the first church I visited for several months before I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. I heard about a different church from a friend and decided to give it a try next. It was a great church for me and I ended up staying there until I moved.
When I moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, I was newly married so that greatly impacted my search. My husband had been living in the Twin Cities for three years and was already attending a church but we knew it wasn’t the church we wanted to attend together. This time we did a much more thorough search by talking to people, looking at everything we could find online and visiting at least five different churches (multiple times) before we made our decision.
In my experience, it can be helpful to learn a few things about the church before you even set foot through the door. Check out their Facebook page and read their mission statement. Don’t be afraid to ask coworkers or neighbors where they go to church and what they like about it.
Keep an Open Mind.
In my search for a church home, I found myself being turned off by the smallest things. The music isn’t my style, the order of the service isn’t what I’m used to ... I don’t like this, I don't like that. I began to realize that I was thinking too much about what the church could do for ME. I shifted my focus and began to look for a church where I could serve and a community where I could grow. This slight change in how I approached my search made a huge difference. I was able to get past the little things and focus on where I could best use my gifts to serve God’s kingdom.
If you are looking for a new church, don’t make up your mind before you even begin. Be open to being surprised about where God will use you — even if the building or worship style looks way different than you imagined.
Take Your Time Making a Decision.
When I first moved to Minnesota, I was ready for my church search to be over before it even began. The options for churches in the Twin Cities are endless and I just wanted to quickly get plugged into a community and find my place without doing all the “hard work.” But looking back, I’m so glad we took a few months to make our decision. My husband and I found a church that loved us so well, provided opportunities for us to serve both our church and surrounding community and challenged us in our daily walk with Jesus.
I know that looking for a new church can be exhausting. It’s easy to become discouraged and wonder if you’ll ever find somewhere that fits. But don’t give up! Take your time and keep an open mind to where God may be leading. He is working behind the scenes and has a place for you to grow, serve and belong.
I'd love to hear from others who have recently been through this process. What was your experience like? What was the hardest part? What did you learn?