7 Questions to Ask When Searching for a Church

Finding a new church home can be a major challenge faced by many Christians. Each local church is a family. Leaving one, whatever the reason, is difficult — as it should be.  

Although saying goodbye to a church family is tough, what’s even more difficult may be finding that new church.  

How does one go about picking a new congregation, putting down roots and building relationships? Here are seven questions worth asking before settling on your new church home: 

1. Have you visited for a long enough period? God will always guide a surrendered person (Psalm 32:8) and we should begin our search by praying and then visiting churches. When we start visiting churches, we will inevitably find ourselves comparing the new church with our last one. We may unfairly expect the preaching, worship or programs to be the same as the one we left. When we do that, we miss out on what makes this other church unique and why it may be just what we need at this season in life.  

2. Is the preaching faithful to Scripture? 2 Timothy 4:2 commands preachers to preach the Word. Is the preacher working week by week to explain the meaning of the biblical text and help the listeners apply it to their lives? The pastor’s preaching style need not match the expertise and skill of your favorite orator, but it does need to be faithful to God’s Word.  

3. How do the members treat guests? Most churches believe themselves to be friendly, but sometimes (probably by accident) they are mostly friendly to each other. Do they welcome guests into their church? When you visit, are members coming up and saying hello and learning your name? The smaller the church, the easier it is to identify guests. But even in larger churches there should be a culture where members are trying to get to know people they do not already know, including those who are not yet members. Find a church that is glad you are there and seeks to show hospitality to you when you visit.  

4. Do they pray for the needs of their church family? This is not to suggest that a lengthy prayer list be read from the podium each service, or even that one is included in the church program. But is there a time where members, individually or collectively, are prayed for? Is there a recognition at some point in the service that the members are dealing with issues in their life that require wisdom, grace and provision from God? You are going to go through hard times in life and you need to be at a place where you will be cared for and where you will be able to care for others.  

5. Is there a burden for lost people and an effort to reach them with the gospel? Is the church seeking to evangelize those in attendance in their services or those participating in their programs, and is there an effort to engage the community with the gospel? If you visit for a few weeks, do you see the lost being saved and the church rejoicing over those being added to the body? When you find a church that is solid in other ways and is also reaching out evangelistically, you may be on your way to finding a great place to invest your life, resources and gifts.  

6. Is there appropriate transparency in the finances and decision making? Is there a system of appropriate openness and accountability to how decisions are made in the church and how the money is spent? While not every detail may be made available to every member, decisions should be made in a way that honors God and where sound accounting and decision-making practices are being used. Look for a church where trust has been earned by those in leadership because of the way they conduct the church’s business.  

7. Does the church hold to sound doctrine and support missions? Sound doctrine should always result in global missions engagement. Jesus gave us one mission, the Great Commission. Make sure the church you are considering joining demonstrates a commitment to taking the gospel into all the world.  

At the writing of this article, I am pausing to pray for people all over the Commonwealth who are searching for their next church home. I hope this list of questions will be of value to you as you seek the Lord’s guidance to put down roots with a local church.  

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