Up until a few months ago when we found relaxedchurch.com, we were searching for a church home, and had been for awhile. We had (still have if we lived there) a church home in Bath, Ohio … but we don’t live anywhere near there now.
It seems way too many people are on this boat. The hardest thing for many I’ve talked to is just going out and trying different churches – there is just no way we happen to know people that go to any of the different churches we might actually want to try, so sometimes you don’t.
So why is this so hard?
- Not hearing a “message”
This was really big for us. If we didn’t leave the “service” feeling like we were touched by God through the sermon, we were left to wonder. I can understand once in awhile not, but when attending a church a few times with nothing, our interest just didn’t stay. Yes I understand that if we come for a sermon by this one pastor, it will just be great … but we aren’t into it for a single pastor, we are into it for the whole bunch.
- Afraid to step out and into some place you’ve never been to before
It’s great if you know someone that has invited you, but what if no one has and you still want to go? I myself am willing to step out in this way, but this wasn’t the case years ago.
- Scared/tired of being bombarded with expectations
I’m fairly sure that almost every church we have gone to at least someone has asked if we will be returning or stating how it would be just great if we come back… leaving it open for us to respond. What do you say to that? Especially if you are visiting with friends, even when you already have a church you sort-of think you want to continue at instead. I assume the expectation is regarding coming back again, but I guess the expectation could be over other things, like tithing or getting involved too (we haven’t experienced that much though).
- Finding one that theologically you don’t agree with
For me the challenge is that my theology isn’t exactly set in stone. I’m not one that is highly well-versed in the Bible much less when someone throws out a term like “doctrine of eternal security”, I have to go look up what they mean, go dig and try to figure out what the church we are currently attending believes in, then think about it. This can also be hard because you may not find this out for awhile too.
I guess you could try to find a denomination that you agree with (if you know) and try to find a local church of it, but what if you really don’t know a toot about denominations? That was me when we moved out here – I didn’t know anything about the history of Christianity, specifically churches (I rented a two-part DVD set from the local library – it helped out a bunch). Even still – we really never felt part of any church that was part of a denomination … we’ve ended up more looking for independent simply Bible-believing Christian churches.
- An un-friendly and/or not welcoming place
This is two-fold: welcoming and friendly for first-time visitors, but ALSO what to expect when you reach that unknown status on the welcome card where you aren’t a first/second/third time visitor but not a “regular” either. What do you have to expect from the everyday people of the church? I’m not talking about a getting a mug or something – I mean being invited over or at least a very clear hey we -know-you’ve-been-hanging-around so if you’re up for it, let’s really-get-to-know-you and you-get-to-know-us.
- Not finding something there that fits for you and/or your family
For a while when we were shopping around for a church, we started looking for certain ministries we wanted to possibly be able to connect with. You know – like a Women’s Ministry that my wife actually would want to get involved in (you know something that she actually would enjoy doing with other women) or a Men’s Ministry that did almost anything (I’m easy – I even will watch sports even though most of them I don’t really care for). What about small groups – do they do that? We really simply truly loved our “Real-Life Group” in our church in Ohio, and want to do it again. What about AWANA for the kids? What about active missionary work? Local community activities? You know what I mean.
- not fitting in culturally
I’m not speaking with regards to race (although racial diversity could be a topic for some), but the culture by which the church interacts within its community. Like involvement – being a church that really has a high % of active members when you aren’t that active (or vice versa). Or during “service” how is worship music interacted with by members and visitors? Does everyone sing or not sing? What kind of music? Use of technology or lack thereof?
To those reading this – what issues have you experienced or still have in finding a church home?