If you’ve ever been through the apartment hunting or house shopping process, you know what it’s like to walk into a place and just know it isn’t the right spot to call home. Our neighbors told us that they had walked through over fifty homes before they chose the one near us! Eventually you either settle for a place that has most of the things on your wish list, or you find the home that made you go, “Ahhhhhhh!” the first time you walked through it.
That’s not unlike like the search for the church you will both call home. We’ve known couples who have tried numerous churches before landing on the “Ahhhhhhh!” church. Others found their home church on the first visit.
So how does a couple find a church home together? Here are a few guiding suggestions:
- Commit to finding a church together. Don’t divide and have “his” church and “her” church. You need to be experiencing the same teaching, relationships, accountability, and service opportunities. Being immersed in the same church will increase your spiritual connection and your spiritual conversations.
- Pray about it. Perhaps God has placed a particular church on your mind or heart. Maybe there has been one that has looked intriguing to you.
- Ask around. Put it out on social media to your friends in your community. When they suggest their church, ask why they like it and what keeps them there.
- Together, make a list of potential churches to investigate. Then, prioritize the list. One of your criteria may be proximity to where you live. That can increase your family’s involvement and connection with others in your community.
- Do online research. Before you visit, go to the church’s website. Is it current or do they list events from weeks or months ago? Is there a doctrinal statement online that you can read? Are they associated with a denomination—and what do you two think about that? Look through their ministries. Do they seem to be a good fit for your family? Are they focused outside their church walls? In what areas local or globally are they involved in compassionate care?
- Are there audio or video messages you can listen to? We suggest engaging in two or three messages before attending. This will give you a feel for the style of teaching and if you connect with the teacher and learn from them. Listen to be sure they are teaching from the Bible and not simply giving a preponderance of opinions. You both want to learn the Bible and how it applies to your lives and marriage. Do you connect with the pastor? Do you learn from the pastor…or are they hard to follow?
- Will you and your family grow spiritually here? The goal is for you to become more mature Christians together. That will also include the two of you serving in the church and its ministries.
- Are there opportunities for you as a couple to get connected relationally in the church? Are there small groups or Adult Bible Fellowships (Sunday School) for adults?
- If you have children, check the children’s ministry. It’s ok to meet with the head of that ministry and ask them what they teach and what their goals are. Are they teaching the Bible in creative ways in which your children will learn? Do they do background checks on their workers? What training do they provide their volunteers? Ask about their security measures including checking in children and picking them up. If you have junior or senior high students, find out what the teaching has been in the youth group for the past six months. What activities, service opportunities, mission’s trips and retreats do they take?
- Is the church’s overall style compatible with yours? What’s the dress code? What about the music style. We like Pastor Rick Warren’s statement that, “There is no such thing as Christian or non-Christian music. There’s only Christian or non-Christian lyrics.” So as a matter of preference, is it a music style you both appreciate?
- Once you find a church that seems to be a good fit, attend it 3-4 times. This will give you a better representation of what an average experience is like there before you settle in. Then, get involved! Find a place to serve. Support the ministry financially. Build relationships and get connected in your new home.
As you go through this process, continue to pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment. The process and your decision will be used by Him to build your marriage.