5 Steps to Connecting with a Church
5 Steps to Connecting with a Church
In my current life stage, many of my close friends and collages are in the market for a new church home. Many are moving out of state due to jobs or family circumstances, while others are simply seeking a change of pace from their college years. A fresh start. A place they can make their own in this time of transition.
I have been blessed with an amazing church family here at Alameda Church of Christ, however have found myself in "the market" before. Therefore, I wanted to share 5 effective steps that helped me better connect with a church. Some of these are obvious and others are difficult. I can guarantee, though, that by implementing these 5 steps you will find yourself having stronger and deeper connections with your church.
Attend a church where there are people
This seems like an obvious first step, but it has to be said. With the rise of televised church services, attending a church where people actually meet in a building is becoming an "option" over the "obvious." Though I do think “TVChurch” (as some might call it) has its place and function, I do strongly recommend attending a church where you can interact and experience worship with other humans.
We were made to be with others. Being an introvert myself it is hard to imagine that I could be much happier than when I am snuggled up on the couch, with the lights dimmed, the door locked, and the phone turned off. However, there is something about worshiping in community with other broken, wandering, and seeking individuals like myself that transcends any other form of gathering.
Be open to something new and different
One thing I have learned in my years of ministry is that every church has its own flair and distinctiveness. There are no two churches that look alike, and no single church is meant for every person. However, when attempting to connect with a church you must be open to something that might seem odd or different to you. Many walk into a church searching for comfort, but so often seek it in the wrong areas.
Rather than pursuing acceptance or acknowledgment they look for upgraded worship experiences. Rather than seeking opportunities to get connected or serve they pay attention to their the length of service or “relevance” in their life. There is not a church out there that will check off all your preference boxes, therefore embrace the new and the different that you experience. If a church is led by gospel principles; if they actively seek to serve and love others in their community, then you might have a winner.
Take the initiative to meet someone
I am currently in charge of our greeting ministry and it is not an easy task to connect with every new person that walks in on Sunday morning. In fact, it usually takes me a couple weeks to actually notice a new face. For this reason, I am filled with all-out joy when a guest approaches me and asks me a question. In fact, at the time of this writing that very thing happened just this morning and it ensured to me that Stacy (name changed) received my utmost attention and knew that we appreciated her time with us.
Churches might not catch you the first go-round. Many people are just as nervous about introducing themselves to you as you are in introducing yourself to them. Therefore, if you have the courage, take the initiative and introduce yourself to someone. Let them know you are visiting, and I can almost guarantee they will greet you with the joy and acceptance you were initially seeking.
Find a place to serve
Unfortunately, we ministers see too many people miss out on this next step. If you approach a new church asking what the church can do for you and your family, you are missing a crucial element about what church is about. In fact, you’re probably not going to get much out of that church and will move on. The right question to ask is how you can get involved in serving the church and surrounding community. Sign up to volunteer at the next big event. Contribute to the financial goals of the church. Or, better yet, join the greeting team and help others who are visiting feel accepted and comforted in their first time experience.
The church should not be made up of a bunch of attenders; the church should be made up of a bunch of doers. Get active, get involved, and serve with the church.
Some of the most inspiring stories come from those who have committed themselves to a body of believers for an extended amount of time. I have heard stories of small groups hosting funerals for a deceased member of the group, people anonymously donating thousands of dollars to pay college tuition of those who had no option, and churches circling an entire hospital building with clasps hands as they lift a hurting friend up in prayer. When you commit yourself to a body of believers, they in return will commit themselves to you.
In a fast paced society like ours, true commitment is hard to come by. True commitment comes from those who endure through the peaks and the valleys of a relationship (which there will be in a church). True commitment does not hold on to grudges, but actively seeks reconciliation. True commitment loves and serves others unselfishly. Be willing to commit yourself to a church and you will reap the benefits when you need it the most.
These are just a couple suggestions that you could follow. Having been in the position of seeking, and now over the guest relations of our church, I have seen both sides of this experience. As you begin seeking a new church family, keep these suggestions in mind and you will be on the right track to connecting with your new church.