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Looking for a New Church Home as a Couple
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 improvement.

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.