Involvement in local organizations is one of the best ways to become part of a new community after you move. If you live like nearly 80% of all Americans, your religious group represents one of the most vital components in this organization-based assimilation.
But when you move, whether you go a town over or across the country, you may struggle to find a church that feels as comfortable as your previous congregation. In this blog, we guide you through the process of finding your new church home after a move.
Define What You Want
Before you begin your search, think about what you want from your new church. It may help you to organize your thoughts as a list. Include characteristics like:
- Denomination: Obviously you want your new church to fit into your religious beliefs and sect. But do you have denominational preferences? If you’re Christian, do you prefer to worship with Baptists? Pentecostals? Non-denominational groups? And so on.
- Logistics: What service times work best for you? How far do you want to travel to attend a service?
- Opportunities: Were there any particular opportunities you had in a past church you’d like to have again? Congregations may offer clerical positions, such as Sunday school teacher, or voluntary opportunities, like youth group leader.
- Religious focus: Even if a church represents your denomination, its congregation may focus on one particular aspect of the faith. Do you prefer scripture-based sermons? Lessons applicable to daily life? Or a combination of the two?
- Size: Large, grand halls can evoke a feeling of wonder, while small meetings offer warmth and intimacy. Decide which size most appeals to you.
Think about the things you liked most about your previous church, as well as what you wish would’ve been different.
Find Several Local Congregations and Attend Their Meetings
Once you have a clear picture of your hopes and goals, do some basic internet and phonebook searches. Find the times of several services near your home.
If you have trouble finding online or newspaper listings, talk to your new neighbors about their religious worship habits. If you end up attending the same church as a newfound friend, you may have an easier time feeling at home in the congregation.
If you can, visit services at each prospective church. You may not feel able to attend multiple Sunday services each week, so make sure to find out if the churches have mid-week activities or services.
Speak to the Ecclesiastical Leaders of the Congregation
Once you narrow your options down a bit, contact the ecclesiastical leaders of each church. If possible, meet with them in person. Get a feel for the relationship the pastor, rabbi, or imam has with his or her congregation.
Speak to Congregational Members
During your first meeting, introduce yourself to some of the other members-especially if you recognize people from your new neighborhood. While you may feel hesitant to reach out to strangers, building relationships with your fellow congregation members represents one of the best ways to determine how well you’ll fit in at a particular church.
Explore the Doctrine of Potential Congregations
At this point, you can begin to discuss the church’s particular doctrinal practices. While learning more about each church’s doctrine may not help you make your final decision, this information can help you eliminate any churches that definitely do not hold to your particular beliefs.
This doctrine-based investigation may help you narrow down your search to one or two churches. Once you have only a few options, begin to get involved in the congregation. Take note of how it feels to volunteer alongside other members, participate in worship ceremonies, and attend regular meetings.
If you haven’t made a firm decision before you get involved, keep your mind open. It’s all right to move closer toward multiple churches to find the perfect fit.
Remember as you look for a new church home that no church will feel exactly the same as your old one. But also remember that the new right church for you will offer new opportunities for growth and spiritual discovery.