|Looking for a New Church Home … as a
7 guidelines to help you find the right fit
Drs. Leslie and Les Parrott
I've recently gotten engaged to a wonderful man. We come from different
denominations and have decided that this, in addition to the new area of
town where we will be moving and working, has created a great opportunity
to find a new church home. We've been shopping around a little bit, but so
far we haven't found a church where we both want to get involved. What
suggestions do you have for choosing a church together?
Finding a church you both feel good about giving your time and resources
to make it work is vital to the spiritual health of your upcoming
marriage. The following suggestions will help you in that process.
1. Be a good "consumer" when you're church shopping.
Many couples choose a church because of its location or its architecture
or any number of superficial reasons. Don't make the mistake of not
looking for a church that shows real signs of health. In A Faith that
Hurts, a Faith That Heals, Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton describe a
healthy church as one that is not controlling, blaming, delusional,
distrustful, and so on. Make your own list of what you want in a church
and shop around.
2. Remember that there is no perfect church.
Once you have made a list of what you are looking for in a church, you may
end up hunting long and hard and still come up empty if you do not remind
yourself that no church is perfect. Every church is going to have
deficits. Even the spectacularly successful Jerusalem church in the book
of Acts had occasional problems, and yours won't do better than that. So
don't waste your time looking for perfection.
3. Try to find a church where you can serve together.
Many Christian couples arrive at church and head in separate directions,
each to their own areas of involvement. While you may certainly have some
independent realms of service, try to get involved in some team ministry.
Whether teaching a class, singing together in the choir, or codirecting an
outreach ministry, look for something that brings you together in the
house of God.
4. Don't bad-mouth the church.
Since no church, no matter how great, is perfect, you don't need to spend
time griping about this and that. You don't even need to point out the
flaws together. Not that you shouldn't think critically about your church
and its actions, but you don't need to nitpick. Make it a standard
practice to discuss problems you see only with the church who can make a
difference. Realize that once you join a church, if you're going to gripe
about a problem, you should be the first one volunteering to make an
In addition to these church-searching guidelines, remember these
suggestions once you decide on a new church home.
1. Establish a natural pattern of attendance.
Once you have settled into a church home, make it a consistent part of
your life together. Don't fall into the weekly debate of "Shall we go or
not?" Instead, think of church attendance as a necessary fueling station
for your soul. Just as your automobile needs to be refilled with gasoline,
so does your relationship with God need to be tuned up at church.
2. Support your church financially.
If you are attending a church regularly, you need to contribute to its
ongoing ministry in your life and relationship. That means tithing your
income. You can make this a regular part of your budget and pay it just as
you would any other expense. Supporting the work of the church not only
helps the church, it helps you and your relationship to invest in
something important too.
3. Maintain a healthy balance.
While it is critically valuable to find a place to attend service
together, it is equally important not to overdo it. We have seen plenty of
couples who get so involved in their church that they lose touch with each
other. You need to have time in your week that is just for you, time that
is not spent giving, but receiving from one another. If you find that your
church activities keep you from having family time together, you know you
have crossed the line and it is time to realign your priorities.