Whether you've moved to a new area, outgrown your old church, or you're a first-time church goer, finding a new church and visiting it for the first time can be a daunting prospect. In addition to being a source of community and social support, church is also where we go to hear the word of God, and is thus an important component of our spiritual well-being. As the Bible tells us, "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).
As such, it's essential to find a church that meets your needs—spiritually, socially, and logistically. And, as with any new commitment, you'll want to make sure it's a good fit by visiting a new church at least once. Here, we've put together a brief list of things to consider when looking at different churches, as well as a guide for first time visitors at church.
How To Choose a New Church
Finding a new church is an intensely personal decision, and as such, there's no right or wrong answer. The right church for you is one that aligns with your beliefs, values, and preferences. To figure out what that looks like for you, spend some time reflecting on the following questions. If you belonged to another church in the past, it might also be helpful to think about what you did and didn't like about your experience there.
Do the doctrines, preaching style, and scriptural philosophy of the church agree with your own?
For example, does this church believe in the Bible as the ultimate authority on questions of faith and worship? Similarly, where does it stand on certain key tenets of Christian doctrine, such as the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Christ, and salvation by grace? Finally, do the sermons and the manner in which they are delivered resonate with you?
Does the church's infrastructure seem sound?
Good governance can make or break a church. Ask about the church's administrative structure, its membership policies and regulations, and its leadership. If anything seems amiss, that could be a red flag.
Does the church have a strong community?
For example, are the social offerings and programs (such as youth ministry, Bible study groups, etc.) to your liking?
Is the location suitable and convenient?
Depending on your desired level of involvement and attendance, keep in mind that you may be making the trip to church multiple times a week. A prohibitively long drive or an unsafe neighborhood can be a deal-breaker.
Do you feel welcome?
Going to a new church can be intimidating—after all, few people like being the new person in a room full of strangers. However, one of the hallmarks of a good church is that the congregation will do their best to make you feel comfortable.
What To Do as a First-Time Visitor to a New Church
Exploring a new place of worship can be a wonderful chance to make new friends, deepen your connection with God, and grow as a Christian. For that reason, it's important to think of your visit as an opportunity, and to keep an open mind. Below are a few things you ought to be on the lookout for, and to make sure to do:
Make a good impression.
Looking for a new church is a two-way street. While it's important that the church and its congregants meet your requirements, it's also important that you demonstrate you'll be a valuable addition to the community. Consider looking up the church's website or social media, or calling ahead of time to get an idea of the dress code (if there is one), and any other pertinent details for new attendees.
Make a point to say hello to at least a couple of people. Tell them you're new, and ask them what they like about the church. This is a great chance to get an insider perspective. Even more importantly, stick around in the greeting line after the service and introduce yourself to the pastor.
If your initial experience at a new church seems promising, inquire about the possibility of attending other programs, such as community events, Bible study meetings, or a new members class (if available). Doing so will give you a chance to experience the wider social landscape of the church.
Pray about it.
Don't forget to ask God for guidance or a sign about where He wants you to be. If you're feeling uncertain or anxious, this is a great way to help alleviate your stress and gain some assurance.
Word of Life Church is dedicated to making the world a better place by spreading the Word and Love of God. Our mission is to create an authentic, welcoming worship community, and to empower people to live a life of faith and service in the name of Jesus. Our offerings include a variety of worship experiences, Life Groups, youth programs, and service initiatives for individuals of all ages, all of them designed to offer community and opportunities to engage with God. Attend a sermon or contact us today to learn more about how we can serve you, or consider donating to support our work.