Church Shopping 101

Wow!  Have you ever felt like life keeps passing by faster and faster and you really feel like you can’t keep up?  That’s how Jan and Feb have been for me.  Days keep going by and my “to-do” list keeps growing and current projects keep getting put on the back burner (ummm can we say blog posts?).  How is that possible?!?!  And don’t get me started on my spring cleaning fever.  I’m ready to charge through my house with a trash bag and declutter for my ever-so-precious, trash hoarding, boys.  What is so special about that little piece of plastic they got as a birthday party favor?  I’ll never know.

Ok, on to what I wanted to share with you today.  I feel like one of the hardest things after a move is finding a church.  UGH!  The agony.  Why is it so hard?  I mean it’s one thing when it’s just you and the hubs but it’s a whole other “thing” when it involves children. It’s never the easiest or most fun task and it can down right make you even lonelier (if that’s even possible).   But give yourself some grace and know God will lead you where he wants you – even if that means suffering through some rough Sundays.
Church-ShoppingFirst, I want to emphasize why it is so important to church shop after a move.  As hard as it is, you need that community.  It’s so easy after a move to lay low and start a whole new routine for yourselves like leisure Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper (what’s that like??).  Though the feelings of community won’t be instant, you still need to seek it out and it will eventually come.

Charles Spurgeon once gave a fantastic illustration to this point.  He spoke about two men sitting around a campfire.  They threw a couple of coals aways from the fire and they quickly went out.  Worship is a lot like that campfire.  When Christians are all together worshipping, they burn hot like that fire.  But when one leaves the fire and tries to “worship on their own”, that fire within them can quickly burn out.  Let’s face it, it’s easy to stay home and think you are doing good on your own with God, but in reality we need that community to keep our fire going and our faith strong.

Finding a church isn’t easy.  But take heart, God will always lead you to the right place.  There may be strange ways in which he does, but He will.  Be patient.  Our first church in KY we found in the phone book (yes…back in the ancient days of phone books).  We picked it because it had a large ad and we noticed there was a campus near our apartment.  HA.  Ended up being a fantastic church where we grew in our early marriage and met wonderful couples to figure out this thing called marriage and family.  In Virginia, we tried several churches (and it wasn’t easy explaining to the kids why their world as they knew it was different every single week).  One was so bad that I seriously used the baby feeding excuse to leave.  HA!  Our most interesting church shopping was definitely in Vegas.  One church actually had smoke coming up from the stage during worship.  LOL.  The church we landed with was one we had heard about through some friends we had in our KY church.  They had served there two years prior to us moving there (God is so clever).  Anyway, I felt so out of my comfort zone when we visited.  We almost didn’t go back.  But my kids liked it there and we decided we weren’t getting much better.  Lol!  Ended up being one of THE BEST teaching churches I’ve been to and I learned so much about God’s word (ironic isn’t it….Vegas and best church experience?).  The music was so good you couldn’t leave without the JOY of the Lord.

There are a few pointers I can give you when church shopping.  One is to never, never compare the new church to what you are familiar with.  It will never live up to your expectations.  There is no such thing as a perfect church.

Another is to try to search near your home.  It’s easy to think you will drive 20 miles every week bc it’s no big deal.  But realistically you will burn out due to the sheer drive.

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, I have found that you must visit a church multiple times before deciding to mark it off your list.  With every new church we have been a part of, my first visit was “eh” ok.  There’s not one I fell in love with immediately.  However, after about a month of steady attendance, I could feel and visualize us being a part of that church.  It takes time.  Just like most things in your life, it’s not instant.  Maybe you were lucky enough to know the moment you laid eyes on your now husband that he was “the one”.  But for most of us, it took time.  Time getting to know the other person.  The church is a lot like that.

I’m not saying you have to start your search immediately upon arrival in your new territory.  We have always taken some time for ourselves to feel comfortable and familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings (and find our good clothes among all the boxes and maybe even to pep talk ourselves into the awkward task).  Give yourself a month at the most, but don’t dilly dally too long so that you burn out.  Keep that fire alive and get out there and shop!  Remember, you are on a mission in your new town.  God planted you there for a reason.  Now, seek out to surround yourselves with other believers so that maybe you can get a glimpse of God’s plans for you.


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