Going to a new church feels like a first date. You are dressed up all pretty and fancy ready to experience a new start in a new environment. You even expect the church to be dressed nice and ready for you to attend.
While your body on the outside looks like a million bucks, your mind races with an endless series of questions. Is this going to be our church home? Do they believe anything weird? Are there going to be goat sacrifices?
That last question was a joke, but nonetheless finding a church home is difficult. Whether you moved to a new town, left your old church, or you’re just starting to go to church, let me walk you through what to do your first Sunday at a new church. (If you want to know how to find a new church then you can read this post. When church looks like Baskin Robbins)
Sit Back And Observe:
The first week is all about watching and learning. You are on a reconnaissance mission. Scoping out the church. What are their services like? Does the preaching style minister to me? Are their people my age here? If you have a family, does the church have a way to minister care for everyone in your family?
These are all the types of questions you should be asking, and on the first visit observe as much as possible.
Ask What Kind of Ministries They Offer:
Most churches have a welcome center, info area, or a place where new people can gather more information. Go there. Meet the volunteer or pastor leading it, and learn about the ministries they offer. Do they have any discipleship plan? If you wanted to serve are there areas you can serve at? Are there ministries for every member of your family?
Remember, the first Sunday is all about gathering information. You aren’t committing to anything. It’s just a date and not a marriage yet.
Avoid Asking the Pastor for a Financial Statement:
Like all first dates there are sure fire ways to make sure the first encounter ends poorly. Asking a girl her weight on the first date goes south quickly. The same goes for asking the senior pastor for last year’s financial statements, the by laws, or his view on Revelation on your very first Sunday. I’m not saying those aren’t important. They just aren’t “first visit” type questions.
Show an Abundance of Grace:
You would be amazed the amount of people who complain on their initial visit. It astounds me every time it happens. The music is too loud or too quiet. It was too hot or too cold. The speaker talked too fast or too slow. He didn’t use enough Bible or used too much Bible.
You name it and I’ve heard it. When you go to a brand new church show an abundance of grace and avoid sharing your critical opinions. You can communicate your observations in a kind way after you have attended for a while.
Plan on Attending the Church For Three Weeks:
As long as the church doesn’t have some crazy, out there beliefs and you observed no major red flags, give it three weeks. Visit three consecutive Sundays in a row. That’s enough time to grasp a large scope of how it operates and functions. You won’t have a complete picture, but it will be adequate enough to make a decision.
On Your Fourth Week Try Diving Into a Ministry:
After being there a full month, try diving into something small. Maybe join a Bible study or get your kids in a program or try serving somewhere. After a month you should begin the process of making church not just a building you go to but a family you join.
Finding a new place of worship is never easy. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, and even confusing at times, but with a plan you can get through your visit much easier.
Is there anything you would add to this list?
Comment below with your thoughts.