Finding A Church Near Me

Google the words "Find a non-denominational church near me" and you may be surprised to see an array of ads for church-finders, or a wide variety of churches in your area vying for your attention. But finding a good church to call home is not as easy as locating a nearby Starbucks or Home Depot. Churches are as unique as the people that attend, and the search for a "perfect church" can be a daunting task. Here's a few tips to keep in mind if you find yourself searching for a place to call home.

1. There is no such thing as a perfect church!
And all God's people said..."Duh!" Scripturally speaking, only God's Kingdom is perfect and unshakable, the church at large is still populated with imperfect, well-meaning, broken people, who have been forgiven and are trying their best to be forgiving. It's oft quoted "If you find a perfect church, don't go there, or you'll mess it up." People will always be people, so don't expect anywhere to be perfect. (This advice is also applicable to the PTA, Home Owners Association, and local bar.) Don't look for perfection, look for a place where the attendees are genuine in their faith and welcoming to strangers.

2. Is it a friendly church, or just a church of friends?
This can be tricky. Sometimes you can walk into a new fellowship and see plenty of fellowship, but all of it seems to be between folks who already know each other. If someone notices when you walk in, and greets you with a warm smile and a handshake, you're off to a great start. *NOTE: Don't play mind games, nobody can read minds. If folks are initially shy to greet you, trying flipping the script; say hi and smile at somebody first. If after a few attempts to show yourself friendly, people don't seem to reciprocate, you might want to continue your search.

3. What do you believe and what do they believe
Here's another helpful insider tip: almost every church has a "What We Believe" page on their website. Check it out first to see if there's anything really weird or off-putting from the way God has led you. Any good church will try to make it easy to identify the essentials of what they believe and teach. BUT don't go digging for dirt. I promise you, every church in town will have something you might disagree with, but I'll bet it's not on the "What we believe" page. Wanna know why? Because they're not looking for an argument. Keep the main thing the main thing when you're looking for a good church near you. You may be surprised just how much you have in common, since everybody there is looking for Jesus, just as you are. Oh yeah, and if you think you're already smarter than everyone there, start your own church, they probably won't change theirs for you.

4. Third time is a charm
Ok, let's be honest. Not everyone likes the same style of music, clothes, volume, or preaching. Just because a church does things differently than you prefer does not make it less sincere or less earnest in their desire to follow Christ. And everyone can have an off day. So, I suggest if you're "looking for a church near me" give a new place the benefit of the doubt for a couple weeks. Just like dating someone new: they might be nervous, you might be nervous. It could be awkward at first, but you might really like them if you give it a chance. If the doctrine is solid, the music and style is in the ballpark of your taste, if the sermon was encouraging and scripturally sound, and the people were genuinely welcoming, then don't make your decision on the first Sunday you visit. Give it three tries and take the average.

5. Ask not what your new church can do for you, ask what you can do for your new church.
Alright, I know that's an intentional mis-quote of JFK's iconic speech, but the sentiment is still true. Don't just be a consumer. Look for a place where you can be a contributor. You have spiritual gifts, skills, personality strengths, and a unique testimony that is uniquely yours. Find a place to share these blessings. I know there is some frustrated pastor (I know a few) on bended knees this week asking God to send somebody new to the church with a servant's heart, and a willing spirit. You may be God's answer to that fervent prayer.

There. I hope this aids you in your search for a good church. Keep in mind, this is a task requiring much grace, so be willing to be as gracious toward a new church as you want them to be toward you. 

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