Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
In all my fifty-five years I have belonged to four churches. Church number one was Ridgeview. It was my home church until I was nineteen, and my husband, kids and I returned there when we moved back to the area eight years later; we stayed there for twenty-five more years.
Church number two was my husband’s home church—the one he had left when he moved to my home town when we were in junior high. This is where we spent our eight ‘interim’ years before returning home.
Church number three ‘happened’ when we left our Ridgeview family to retire; moving somewhere neither of us had ever lived. It was not a pleasant experience, but not without God’s blessing and TLC.
Church number four is our current and, most likely, last church home. It is the congregation we worship with, study with, serve with, fellowship with, and claim as our church family.
How to find a church family
Finding a church family should be your number one priority when relocating your family or when you find yourself in need of a new church home for sound spiritual reasons. But finding a church home can also be intimidating and even a bit discouraging. When looking for a new church home:
- Choose a church that is doctrinally sound. A doctrinally sound church:
- teaches there is only one God
- teaches Jesus is the only begotten son of God and born as a result of virgin birth
- teaches the Bible in its entirety is the inspired Word of God and conducts itself based on what the Bible teaches
- teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate sacrifice for sins and is a gift of grace and mercy
- teaches salvation through Jesus cannot be earned, but that complete obedience to God the Father and Jesus the Son must be done in faith and out of gratitude to receive the hope of heaven for all eternity (Matthew 28:18-20)
- teaches the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins is received upon baptism (Acts 2:38)
- Choose a church that has a strong youth program that will minister to your children in a way that will help them grow spiritually
- Choose a church that makes you feel welcome beyond the superficial ‘hello, nice to have you’
- Choose a church that encourages you to use your God-given talents and abilities to serve in and outside of the church
- Choose a church you can be yourself in
- Choose a church that walks the walk rather than just talkin’ the talk.
How to know when a church is not right for you
Remember when I said church number three was an unpleasant experience? The better description would be ‘painful experience’.
We thought we put a great deal of thought and prayer into deciding to place our membership with this particular church. It is a church that preaches the Word but as we painfully discovered, they do not practice what they preach. We got involved in various ministries and did our best to fellowship and become part of the family for over two years. No matter what we did, however, we never felt accepted. We were even told on more than one occasion that we weren’t wanted when we volunteered to help with various events.
After trying for two years we prayerfully decided God was telling us to find a different church family. And so we did. Today we are thankful to be part of a church that is doctrinally sound both in word and deed and one in which we have been welcomed into the family the way God’s people should welcome one another.
I don’t tell you this for the purpose of ‘church bashing’. That is in NO WAY my intention. Instead, I am sharing this experience with you to help you understand the right and wrong reasons to find a different church home.
You should find a new church home when:
- You move to a new community
- Teachings are not doctrinally sound
- You are repeatedly made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable
- Your children are not being spiritually fed
- The church becomes stagnant, dogmatic, or ritualistic and refuses to see their actions as such
- Popular opinion and societal views usurp the Bible’s views.
Why a church family is so important
A church family is an essential part a Christian’s life for reasons that are physical, emotional, and spiritual in nature. A church family:
- Provides a sense of belonging
- Provides a source of spiritual accountability
- Provides a source of like-minded friends
- Provides a place to worship, study, and grow in knowledge of the Bible
- Provides you with resources for help with physical needs such as household chores, financial counseling, doing business with Christian men and women, etc.
- Provides you with opportunities to serve in organized ministry
- Provides you with opportunities to share back with God by caring for your Christian brothers and sisters
- Provides you with extended family to share life-experiences with, to look to as mentors, and to come along beside you as you parent your children.
The Bible has much to say in regards to worship, fellowship, teaching, and serving with our brothers and sisters in Christ. So let’s finish with some reminders of what God has to say regarding church families.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17)
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)
~ By Darla Noble