Finding a good church home is a lot like finding someone to date. First of all, it takes time to see if there’s chemistry. Don’t make a decision about a Church from one interaction. Give it a few weeks (at least four or five) of regularly and consistently gathering with that church before you make a judgement about its merits and character. Get to know people. Get a sense for where the pastor’s going in the sermon series. Ask someone to lunch.
Second, we’ve all heard stories of men and women who have impossibly high standards for their future spouse, and end up calling off relationship after relationship because they have a knack for finding some quality or imperfection they just can’t get over. Churches are like people—in fact, they ARE people—and no one is perfect. While there are scripturally taught marks of a healthy Church that you need to look for, you also need to realize that no church will meet all of your preferences or expectations, be they in musical style, small group ministries, size, etc. Furthermore, no one at your future church home ever promised they couldn’t hurt you or sin against you. Grace and forgiveness are just as necessary for others as they are for yourself.
Lastly, remember, this is a commitment. Just like you can’t have a God-pleasing marriage without saying “I do,” you can’t really be involved in a church without making a clear, formal commitment. Did you know they call Millennials the “Maybe Generation” because we’re so notorious for flaking out, keeping our options open and delaying commitment? Don’t fall into that trap. Commitment looks different from church to church, but it’s no less than obedience to Hebrews 10:24-25 where we’re commanded to meet together regularly (read: weekly, if at all possible) when the church gathers for formal worship. In most cases (and this is to be preferred) commitment also looks like formal membership in that church. And it’s also regular involvement and interaction with other members outside of showing up on a Sunday, giving financially to support the ministry there, and serving in the various ministry capacities that church makes available.
Unlike Marriage, church membership is not “’til Death do us part.” But it is a serious obligation. Once you prayerfully commit to a church, you’ve entered into a relationship with every other member in that church, and just like any good relationship you have to fight for it. But the good news is they’re also fighting for you. This is an incredible display of God’s wisdom and glory. By inviting you into a local church he is inviting you into a family that will care for you, provide for you, love you, and yes, even correct you when you need it (as we all sometimes do). And as many of you are leaving your earthly families back home for the first time, the promise of a new kind of family found in a local church must sound especially sweet.
Here are some other resources we found helpful: