Are you feeling like it’s time to connect--or reconnect--with a community of faith?
Identifying the community of faith, or church, that is the right fit for you can be an emotional process. It is intimidating at times. It leads towards decision and option fatigue.
We hope to ease your process by offering five key questions to ask as you identify churches that could be right for you. These questions clarify what a church a teaches, how they engage with their community, and how easy it is to become a part of their church.
5 insider questions for finding your right church:
Are they accessible to me?
Proximity, of course, is key. Is this church located close enough to where you live? Or is the church available in a way that allows for ongoing and regular participation (like offering online-accessible groups or worship)?
There is another layer of accessibility to address, too. Are church leadership positions accessible to my specific place in life? Some churches include this information on their web sites. Others may require some question asking of those in leadership.
Can I see a way to contribute to their community?
Does this church have opportunities for you to serve according to your gifts and passions? If your artistic, a church with ways to easily engage in musical, dramatic, or visual arts groups would be a good fit. Do they have service opportunities for parents of young children? If you'd like to mentor young people, you'd likely find a sense of belonging in a church with engaging youth and children's ministry programs.
Likewise, pay attention to how open and upfront a church is about their opportunities to get involved. It's frustrating to want to contribute to a community but not know how to get involved. While a vast majority of churches will love to have you be part of what they're doing, it shouldn't be a fight for you to become a part of their ministry efforts.
Do I feel moved to support what they support?
Look for the causes and organizations the church supports in their neighborhood, town and city. Are they addressing issues you feel it is important to address? Could you see yourself serving through the service opportunities this church sponsors?
If you're an organizer who is passionate about ending racism, it will be energizing to serve in a church engaged in similar work. Or, if you have a strong interest in serving the hungry of your community, you can do so through a church hosting a feeding program or food pantry.
Can I relate to the people in leadership?
Do the people who are in leadership have an ability to speak into your life situation--or lend an empathetic ear to you? This question doesn't need to be solely about the church's pastor(s). Look at who else the church raises up as leaders in worship and teaching opportunities. Do these people offer words of wisdom for your space in life? Can you identify leaders at the church you'd be willing to be vulnerable with?
What’s my first step to getting involved?
Does the church make it clear about how you take the next step to getting involved in their community life? Many churches post expectations about worship on their web sites. Nearly all offer some type of orientation class for those who are interested in joining the church. Take a look at a church's integration process for discerning if you can speedily be involved.
Ryan Dunn is a Minister of Online Engagement for United Methodist Communications. He is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church.