8 years ago my husband and I moved from Ottawa to Edmonton. Due to this, we needed to find a new church. Our goal was to find a church that we could see ourselves attending for a long time and becoming part of that church. Finding a new church can seem intimidating. In this post, I am going to share with you 6 tips for finding a new church.
6 Tips for Finding a New Church
1. Don’t make the decision alone
In my 37 years of living, I have been a member of 6 churches. Some churches, I only attended for a year and others for much longer.
Each church was a different experience and it gave me a well-rounded view of how different churches work and my experience has helped me know exactly what I want in a church.
Changing churches can be a big decision. Each time I have attended a new church- it was with the guidance of my parents or working with my husband to know what was best for our family.
I have never picked a church on my own and I am very happy about that.
Finding a new church with someone you trust to help you in your church hunt is a good idea.
If you are thinking of looking for a new church then I highly suggest that you look for guidance from people you trust.
Get a referral:
If you have been a Christian for a while, then you probably know other Christians. Chances are that you know someone who has lived and gone to a church in the area you are looking for.
When finding a new church, take some time and ask people you know for a recommendation.
There are 3 places you can get Directions for finding a new church:
1. Your Friends
When my husband and I moved to Edmonton, the only connection we had to the city was my brother-in-law who does not go to church. So, it felt like we had to church hunt with no help from friends.
But, it turns out that we did know someone who had gone to church in Edmonton.
As we prepared to move, it became known around our church that we were moving to Edmonton. One of our friends had travelled to Alberta a few summers prior. She had attended a church there and had a good experience.
Since we knew her and her relationship with The Lord- we knew we could trust her recommendation. So we put that church on the top of our list and had somewhere to start.
Friends are a great place to start when you are finding a new church. They may have attended a different church or know someone who attended somewhere else.
As I get older, I realize how small Christian circles are.
If you stay in a similar denomination- then chances are that you can find someone you know to recommend to you a similar church in the area you are moving to.
2. From your pastor or Elder:
Maybe you are a new Christian or you don’t know many Christians that you can turn to for help. In that case, I recommend that you seek guidance from your pastor or Elder.
As leaders in the church, these people have many connections with Christians from different churches and may even be able to connect you to a church in the area you are moving to as a place for you to start.
When finding a new church, leaders that you respect can be a great help to you.
3. Ask God
I probably should have put this first as prayer is the most important thing you can do when you are finding a new church.
Isaiah 48:17 ESV / Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
God loves you and wants you to come to Him and ask for directions. When we do, His word promises us that He will show us the way.
2. Ask yourself Hard questions
If you are thinking about finding a new church, there are a few questions you have to ask yourself first.
- Why am I looking for a new church?
This is a crucial question to ask yourself. Maybe you have no choice because you are moving to a different city.
But if you are not moving, it’s important to question why you are looking for a new church.
Click here to read good reasons to leave a church.
2. What is the most important thing for you to find in a church
Before you decide what churches to visit, it’s important that you know what you are looking for.
When we moved to Edmonton we wanted a church that was in a similar denomination as we were leaving, was family-friendly, had the breaking of bread service and was welcoming. We were also looking for a church that had an elder and deacon board and that was not run by one pastor.
When finding a new church, it’s important that you know what type of church you are looking for.
Some Criteria to consider
Before you start finding a new church, make a list of things you want in a church.
To help you start, I have made a list of things that may or may not be important to you.
This is just a list. You can add to it, or take some things away.
- Do they have a Children’s program?
- How is the church run? Does the church have pastors, elders, deacons, etc? How do they all work together?
- What denomination you are looking for? Are you going to stay in the same denomination or try something new?
- Types of services and service times
- Does the church have opportunities for you to serve and get involved?
- Does the church have small groups you can be part of– what time and where
- Does the church have a women’s ministry?
- Does the church have a men’s ministry?
- Is the church mission focused?
- Is the church outreach focused?
- Where is the church located? How far are you willing to travel?
Every single church will do things differently and will NOT BE PERFECT. The perfect church will only exist in heaven.
We have some friends who have relocated to a different city and have not been able to find a church that had everything on their list.
So, they had to pear the list down and focus on the top criteria that were important to them.
3. Do some research
People are not the only way you can get information about a church. There are some other things you can do to find a church in your area.
Google is your Friend
I love Google products and I am so happy about the amount of information you can find through the power of the internet.
When my husband and I were getting ready to move to Edmonton, we started our church hunt with a simple Google search.
We knew what church denomination we were looking for so we googled: bible church in Edmonton.
The search results gave us a list for us to start looking into.
If you are living in a particular area of town and want a church in your neighbourhood then you can start your Google search using google maps. Map your location and then look into churches in your area.
While living in Edmonton, my husband and I were interested in maybe attending a church in the neighbourhood we were living in. We felt that we might have Christian neighbours and not even know it.
So, we did a simple Google search and found a neighbourhood church that was meeting across the street from where we lived. Even though we did not decide to go to that church, we were happy to meet fellow believers that lived so close to us.
Read, read, read
Once you have a list of churches that you are interested in, you can read a few resources to know if that church is worth a visit.
- Bible: this may seem obvious, but the first thing you should read is the bible. The Bible has many verses about the function of the church. It is important that you know what a bible believing church is vs one that claims it preaches God— when in actuality it does not. For more about what the bible says about the church, click here.
- Website: These days, most churches have websites. When looking at churches to visit, I highly recommend that you read their website. There, there should be a statement of faith and some history or information about what the church is and what they believe. They might even have a list of ministries and links to other resources.
- Listen: One of the things I look for in a church is biblical teaching. One way to find out what a church preaches is to listen to sermons. As mentioned above, most churches have websites. On their websites, you may also find links to sermons. Listening to the sermons is a great way to learn how many people teach, who teaches, and what they teach about.
Visit the church
The best way to know what a church is like is to actually go and visit a church. Websites and tapped sermons can only tell you so much about a church. They can’t tell you if the people are friendly or if the church actually practices what their website says.
Before you visit a church, be aware that one visit may not be enough. I know that our church, every Sunday is not exactly alike. It may take a few weeks to be able to tell whether or not the church will be a good fit.
But, if you know what you are looking for, then it may only take one visit to know if that church is one you feel God is leading you to.
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I know that I have already talked about prayer, but, I am adding it again because it’s that important.
God wants us to be in fellowship together.
Hebrews 10:25 (NASB)
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
God also wants us to come to Him with all of our needs– including asking for wisdom and direction.
When we turn to God and ask for help, He will direct us to where He wants us to be.
So whether you are thinking of changing church in the same city or you are moving to a new area– cover all of it in prayer.
When you come to God– He will give you peace as to what church you should be at.
5. Be Open to His leading
When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to leave the church I was attending. I even knew exactly what church I wanted to visit first. But, before doing anything I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and prayed.
When I prayed, I felt The Lord asking me to stay. Every single time I came to The Lord about this- I knew He was asking me to stay.
It was not the answer I was looking for, but it was the answer I got. I obeyed The Lord and stayed. In staying, The Lord blessed me by showing me His hand in the leading of the church. I had a front-row seat in watching God move people in His time for His glory.
God knows you and knows the church. He knows how He wanted to use you and He will lead you to where He wants you to be.
It may not be where you expect, but it will always be a blessing to you to obey The Lord.
6. Be ready for change
When I was living in Ottawa, I went to the same church for more than 20 years.
The people there had watched me grow up and were like family.
When we moved to Edmonton, I knew that my church experience would be different.
People would not know me and it would take time to have new people feel like family.
Also, even when churches are in the same denomination, they may do things differently.
People don’t like change. We like what we know and it can be uncomfortable to be in a new church who do things in a different way than you used to.
But it’s important not to let these small differences take our focus off what matters– finding a new church home.
Some Final Thoughts
Starting the hunt for a church can be intimidating. Most cities have multiple churches to choose from.
To help make your church hunt easier, make sure to follow the 6 steps listed above.
Don’t forget that God is always with you and will guide you in finding a new church.
In the comments below, share what you look for in a church.
Please share this post with others. Thank you!