Most people will move churches at least once in their life. Now before you freak out about transfer growth and rearranging deck chairs on the titanic, just think about it. How many churches have you attended?
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So it got me thinking. What goes on in the mind of your average “church shopper”? I know most of you will (rightfully) hate the term, but I use it for convenience. In the same way that most people shop for a house to live in, most Christians will eventually end up shopping for a church to call home.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing! There are actually some legitimate reasons to leave a church. At least for the moment, however, these are not what I want to touch on.
Instead, in this post I want to briefly address 8 tests that I think many Christians will apply before deciding to join a new church. Now whether or not you think they’re the “right” tests is another matter, but from what I can tell most people will probably at least consider them before laying down roots.
So what are they?
1. Leader- According to Rick Warren, most people choose a church based on the senior pastor. Interestingly, most people then choose to stay because of their community. I put leader first because usually he will influence the rest.
2. Teaching- is it faithful and engaging or dull and boring. Is it froth and bubble but no substance? Do they preach exegetically or topically or both? Different people will have different preferences when it comes to teaching.
3. Experience- this includes but is not limited to the music. Do people leave your service feeling energized and built up or tired and depressed? What’s the overall impact of your service on those who attend?
4. Community- do people have friends at your church? How are guests welcomed? Can they imagine themselves belonging there and see it as their new home? I’ve been astonished at how important this is for most people.
5. Involvement- many people want a place to serve and feel needed. Feeling needed and valued is a felt need for most humans. Lots of Christians will want a church in which they can serve and feel valued.
6. Convenience- what time is your service? Does it fit with my kids sleeping patterns? And how far do I have to travel to get there? What about parking? All these sorts of things will influence whether someone decides to join your church.
7. Direction– most people want to know where the church is headed. What’s the vision and is this something I can get on board with? Recently I’ve noticed that more and more people are looking for churches that have a vision for mission.
8. Tradition– some people will only be willing to attend a certain denomination. Others, however, just want to know that what this church stands for is largely consistent with what they believe.
Some of these tests will be more important to some than others. For example, the classic stereotype in Sydney is that the Anglicans only care about teaching and the Pentecostals only care about experience. I don’t think either is correct.
Whatever the case, it might be worth reflecting on how your church scores on each of these tests. Once you’ve done that, you then need to figure out which ones you actually care about. Only then will you know whether you need to make changes.
Question: if you were looking for a new church, which of the above tests would be most important to you? Leave a comment by clicking here.