Additional "New In Town" Articles

 

On Finding a New Church
Published: 10/5/2010 2:07:42 PM

 

When I move to a new place, there are a few things that I absolutely must find in order to start feeling at home in that place: a grocery store, a Target, a bookstore (or two or three), the closest library, and a Lutheran church. For this most recent move of mine, I've been very fortunate. There's a grocery store just down the street, I've found two Targets, three independent bookstores that are all amazing, three library branches within three miles of my home, and a very friendly and welcoming church.

Of all these things, a church can often be the hardest to find. While I was blessed with this move, I have had a few moves in which it took much longer to find a church that felt like home. I am certainly no expert in church hunting, and by no means do I advocate church hopping, but here are some things I have learned that may be useful as you find a new church, for whatever reason.

1. There is no such thing as a perfect church.

The church is made up of imperfect people, so how can we expect to have perfect churches? I think this is a beautiful thing about churches. Regardless of where we come from, everyone in a church has this in common: we are all sinful and imperfect people and we are all forgiven and loved by a sinless and perfect God. Church can be an incredible place to receive God's grace and to show grace to others. Sadly, this doesn't always happen--like I said, there are no perfect churches. But, knowing that no matter how hard you look you aren't going to find a perfect church can remove a big burden from the process of finding a church. Don't look at a church's flaws as a deterrent; look at them as opportunities to grow together.

2. Know the difference between needing and wanting.

I need Word and Sacrament. I need to hear and experience Jesus' love, forgiveness, and grace. I need to be challenged to grow in my relationship with God and with others. I need a church that teaches the Truth, that has sound doctrine. I want a young adult ministry, a women's Bible study, an active youth ministry, music that sounds good whether it's traditional or contemporary, and a great church website, as well as a host of other things. Sometimes a church doesn't have everything that I want, but as long as it has what I need, I can be at home there. I might find that there are other people that want the same things I do. Just because a church doesn't have something I want, it doesn't mean that it can't. It might be an opportunity for me to be involved. Because that’s one of the biggest things I want in a church--a way to be involved.

3. Don't over think it.

This past Sunday I talked to a couple who shared with me that when they first moved to town they planned to visit several churches before deciding which one they were going to join. The first Sunday they visited one church and thought the people were really nice, so they went back, and they kept going back, and they're still there four years later. They never visited another church. It's not always that easy, but it also doesn't have to be hard. It's okay to only visit one church and to settle in there. You don't have to know what every church in town has to offer before making a decision.

I once spent an entire summer visiting a different church each Sunday. While it was a great way to see how other churches do things, I spent those three months feeling unsettled and out of place. It wasn't until we started going to one church regularly that I felt that the new town I was in was home. That church was certainly not perfect, but it had what I needed. And it was there that I found a beautiful family of faith. I think I've found that again in my new church.


By Sherrah Behrens

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