Fourteen years ago I stepped into a church, as a non-beleiver, searching for more. My heart needed to know what my purpose was, about this God other’s talked about who loved them so much and what my future could be.
I walked in one Sunday and stayed for nearly fourteen years.
I gave my life to the Lord in that church, baptized myself and my daughter in that church, worked the welcome desk with my small children greeting other first-time visitors, participated in women’s ministry, watched my husband get baptized, found an incredible small group of woman that invited me in to share life with them and grew in my faith.
But our family entered a new season and we’ve known our time there has passed. It has been time to move onto a different church and we’ve been struggling and fighting the transition.
It is hard. It is painful. You feel vulnerable and most of all, you have to begin again getting to know others – and as an introvert, it is very scary and so uncomfortable.
This has been our season for the past nine months. Visiting church after church each week to find one that is a fit for our family. (And to be honest, there were many weeks we just skipped church because it was too exhausting….. and we would watch an online church service, which was better than nothing, but I know not what God has for us).
I know I am not the only one who passes through this season, so I thought I would share what I feel is important to look for when searching for a new church home. Not that I am right or there are only certain things, but I think there are certain aspects of a church that are key in finding a home that feels just that – like home.
This is one of my highest ranking criteria for a church – to find one where I can feel completely at ease worshipping, singing, lifting my hands and feeling His presence. I need this in my hurried pace I live in each day, a place to calmly lay it all down and be still. Music fills a spot in my heart that nothing else can.
As a mom of a five year old, finding a church were I feel my child can experience God in new ways that are not just my ways is important. Being with children his age is important and finding a church that offers a somewhat structured approach to sharing and experiencing God’s word is critical.
My husband knows we are being called to a church where we can be used to help others. We have strengths and gifts that we can offer to help impact others – it is extremely important to my husband and I. We learn so much through our life and when we share our giftings by serving we truly bless others.
I need to hear from the Word of God each week. I can do my own devotional time, which is my own discipline, but hearing from a Pastor who is gifted in sharing the Gospel in a way that I can identify and respond to is what feeds me. Everyone has different needs, but for me I need to feel connected to a Pastor that I feel is genuine, authentic and realistic in the struggles we all face daily.
Small Group Community
No matter the size of the church I feel I grew more whenI was in a small group community. You can be growing together as a group and it is exhilarating to be held accountable, be supported and know you have someone to call at 4 AM when things are going rough. This is a top priority for us, finding a church where small group community is valued.
What other items would you add to the list, I am curious?
This is a personal journey for us, and one that has affected me a great deal – more than I would have otherwise not realized. Being without that “place” where I belong in my faith has dampened my spirit just a bit. But I know we need to persist and He will lead us to the place He has next for us.