Choosing a Church
It is important that, as Christians, we find a local church to become part of. The Bible says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." (Hebrews 10:25) We are the body of Christ, and need each other (1 Corinthians 12:12-30).
If you are a new Christian, have moved to the area, or are simply visiting: how do you decide which congregation to join? Here are a number of things you need to consider:
A good place to start looking is your local Christian community. Going somewhere near where you live has a number of benefits:
- You are already part of the local community
- You have others nearby who can support you in your growth and be called upon in times of need
- It provides an easy place to take your friends who don't know Jesus
- There is a lot less travelling: better for your health and stress levels - and the environment!
If you became a Christian through the witness of a particular congregation (e.g. an Alpha Course that they ran, or a friend who goes there), then you will already know there are people there who will accept you as part of their fellowship.
This is important: you need somewhere that you can grow as a Christian. This applies however long you have been in the faith. Look for somewhere that has ways of encouraging this, such as small groups (often called cell groups, house groups or similar). If you find somewhere that the Word of God (the Bible) is held in high esteem, you are on the right track!
When you marry, the two "become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). It is important then that if your partner is also a Christian, if at all possible, that you go to the same church. It will save a lot of conflict in your marriage, especially if you have children.
If your partner does not believe, then pray for them. "How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1 Corinthians 7:16) Check out the whole of that chapter for more on marriage.
If you have other family who go to church, then their congregation could be a place to consider for similar reasons.
Often people will choose based on denomination, especially if they have had previous contact with that group. There may be some valid reasons for choosing a church based on this, but it is by no means the most important factor. There is a lot of working together between denominations, and these 'labels' are becoming far less important to people. In fact, where you find a church that is working together with people from other denominations, it is often a sign of life!
And most importantly: ask God! Let Him guide you as to where you should go, and the part you should play in the Body of Christ. If you are looking as a family, then pray together. As you look to God, He will show you what is best in every decision you make.