My wife, daughter, and I relocated from Miami to Boone, NC in the summer of 2013 so I could start working at Samaritan’s Purse. Since then, we’ve been looking for a new home church. Everyone always asks me what the toughest part of moving is. Is it the cold? No. Is it living in a small town? No. Is it being away from Latin food? Possibly, but no. Finding a home church has definitely been the most difficult part of relocating to Boone.
Granted, we were spoiled in Miami. We went to an awesome church where I had the privilege of being on staff. Fast forward to now. I’m a terrible Christian. I have yet to say that I have really found a church home. We visit churches all the time and we understand that no two churches are the same and therefore, we won’t find exactly what we had in Miami, but still.
Boone is beautiful and we like being here. But the longer we’re here the more important it is that we establish constant fellowship with a group of local believers. So as we’re visiting all these churches I repeatedly ask myself 5 simple questions (which are in no particular order).
1. Do I really need to go to Church?
This is a legitimate question. Many Christians feel like they don’t get anything out of church. I understand why. Many churches are preaching messages that are mostly irrelevant. They’re answering questions that no one is asking. At the same time, they refuse to get dirty with people’s real issues.
Another factor is learning style. Churches are academic in nature. Think about it. You sit in an auditorium for an hour and listen to someone speak. Most people never do that outside of Sunday morning. Still, the best churches will have many ways to connect with people and grow in your faith.
There are many reasons why some Christians say they don’t need to attend church. Many of those are legitimate, but not for us. The relationships you build in church, the opportunities to serve others, and the growth that happens within a local church context can’t be matched in any other format.
2. Does this Church strive to be excellent?
I know I’m spoiled. But I want to go to a church that strives for excellence. Not perfection, but excellence. It doesn’t mean that they need fancy lights and a top notch worship team, but it means that they’re constantly trying to be better. Nothing says “I don’t care” like sitting through a Sunday morning service where everything was obviously thrown together the night before.
3. Can I bring non-Christian friends to this Church?
There are some churches that specialize in welcoming non-Christians, that’s where I want to go. On the flip side, there are churches that, whether they realize it or not, do everything they can to push people away. Some of these churches are so cryptic in their language and culture, other Christians won’t even know what’s going on. That’s not what we want. We want a church that we can bring all of our family and friends to without it being weird.
4. What do they believe?
Another important question. What a church believes is central to who they are and who you may eventually become. Another follow up question would be, “How do their beliefs reveal themselves?” Many churches may believe the same exact thing but you will never know it because that’s not what they focus on. Because of that, it’s difficult to gauge the beliefs a church truly holds after just a few visits. And unfortunately, most churches don’t put enough importance on their statement of faith or mission statement to have it mean anything other than the very basics.
5. How’s their Student Ministry?
This may or may not apply to you. If you have children in this age group then this is one of the most important questions. I want my daughter to be safe, cared for, and taught the Word of God in Children’s Ministry. Those were my expectations when I was a Children’s Ministry Pastor. So why would they change now? We have decided to not go back to some great churches here in Boone. Our main reason? They were lacking a strong Children’s Ministry.