Church Shopping

I got an email from my friend Steve Thomas recently chronicling his family's search for a church home now that they've moved to the Kansas City area. Here are some highlights:

I think we have finally settled into a church. We went through the church shopping thing (it just does not even sound good). I will try to summarize our adventure:

  • First we checked out a Covenant Church where the Pastor was friendly, but it just did not feel right. 
  • Next we attended a large church...about 10 minutes from our home. The church is running  about 5000 and has started two venues within the past year. The church has a strong vision, and seems to be doing the right things. There was a lot of things that could have drawn us to that church.   
  • We then attended a a cross between a Lutheran and a Presbyterian church (interesting combination). Later that week the Pastor (unannounced) stopped by to say Hi.  We ended up spending about an hour with him discussing their church. There was a lot of good things about this church. 
  • Next was a...non-denominational church plant with about 150 - 200 people. We enjoyed this church, but had some questions.
  • Next was a Nazarene Church that has about 200  people. This was fun. The Senior Pastor leads the worship while  playing the electric guitar (have you ever considered?), including a little bit of 70s vintage Rock and Roll music mixed in (sounded great).  At the  back of the auditorium (if you can call it that), the church has a kitchenette. About half way through the service, they have an extended meet and greet time (several minutes) where everyone gets up and gets a donut and coffee or juice (almost like an intermission). 

After that, we decided it was time to settle in.  There were really no other churches we wanted to check out without having to drive quite a distance.  After weighing the options we have decided to attend the Community Life Church. Yes, we are back a church plant.  The church is about three years old and does a lot of things that remind us of Five Oaks.  The focus of the church is relationships not programs. The challenge will be not to jump into too many things right off the bat.  Through conversations with the Executive Pastor, it seems the church can use help with Small Groups. We still have some questions, but are excited about the church. 

Just thought you might be interested in what some people go through to find a church.  Especially when they come with such high expectations after attending a church like Five Oaks.

I always feel for people who visit our church after moving to town and share their longing for the church and friends they left behind. It's hard finding a new church family. My advice is always to investigate several options but not to wait too long in deciding because even after they decide, it will take a while to settle in and start building relationships. And wandering for too long just isn't spiritually and emotionally healthy. I think Steve and Lynn's experience is a great example of investigating and then making a decision without waiting too long. I'm also especially excited when people choose a young church with potential so that they can help it become a growing and dynamic church.