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by Pastor Chris Williamson
Since 2015 has begun, gyms and churches are full of people seeking to improve themselves physically and spiritually. As January memberships rise in both institutions, allow me to give you ten tips on how to join a church in 2015:
1. Visit More Than Once
It is nearly impossible to discover what a church is like from one visit. Try observing the church through at least a four-week cycle. Four visits will cause you to be more objective and less impulsive. Be careful not to judge the pastor or the music harshly from one visit because everyone has an off day. Go online to see or listen to previous worship services. Observe the ministries that the church offers, and be sure to read the church’s vision and doctrinal statements to determine if there is agreement.
2. Be A New Wineskin
Jesus said that new wineskins were flexible and adaptable to new wine, whereas old wineskins burst under the fermentation process. When you visit a new church, try your best to be open to what the Spirit of God is doing there. Keep in mind that this church had a particular culture long before your arrival. Resist the urge of trying to change the church to suit your personal preferences. Be willing to be moldable.
3. Don’t Be So Picky
You’ve heard by now that the perfect church does not exist. As a result, be gracious as you test the spirits, knowing that every church has its strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that others may like the things that you don’t like. If you tend to be a negative, sarcastic, and overly critical person, be honest with yourself. If it seems you cannot find and commit to a church, the problem may reside with you and not the church.
4. Know Where To Compromise
You may find a church where you love the preaching, but you may not care much for the worship. You may discover that the children’s ministry may not be up to your liking, but the small groups are outstanding. If married, you and your spouse should determine what key components you must have in a church before joining. If you have a list of five things you are looking for in a church, you may have to compromise if the church has three of them. Few churches will have it all.
5. Respect The Leadership
If you feel that you cannot respect, follow, or learn from the leaders of the church, don’t join. If you choose to join, be a reverent member. As you get acclimated, be sure to call your leaders what the culture of the church calls them. If the pastor is addressed on a first name basis, then you are free to do likewise. But if the church addresses the pastor with a formal title, be sure to use that title, especially in a public setting. Calling pastors by their first name can be seen as being disrespectful.
6. Find A Place To Serve
As you visit, be on the lookout for a place to serve, using your spiritual gifts. Refuse to sit, soak, and sower because serving members are satisfied members. If the church doesn’t have a field of ministry that you are passionate about, participate elsewhere. If you are a former pastor, don’t expect the leaders of the church to make you a leader overnight or get upset when they don’t ask you to preach. This may be the season where God calls you to lead by being a follower.
7. Leave Your Former Church The Right Way
Before joining a new church, you should officially inform your old church of your decision to move on. Don’t assume they know that you left. Neither should you wait on them to seek you out. Take it upon yourself to notify them. You came in through the front door so don’t slip out through the back door. A personal meeting is the best way to say good-bye, but if you shy from confrontation, you can at least send an email, leave a voice mail, or send a letter explaining your decision to leave.
8. Don’t Run Down Your Former Church
Do not go to your new church verbally putting down your old church. This is not impressive because leaders know that if you come in talking down about your former church, it won’t be long before you start talking negatively about your new church. While being optimistic, decide to have integrity with your speech.
9. Get To Know People
In order to love our neighbor as Jesus commanded us all, we have to be intentional. Love will require reaching out towards others even if you tend to be an introvert. Be friendly. Show up to social events at the church. Keep in mind that every church has some good people and some nuts in it. Don’t let a few “nuts” keep you from enjoying your sundae! Avoid setting your sights on becoming close friends with the pastor. Chances are the pastor already has a circle of close-knit relationships.
10. Stop Hopping
Don’t you think it’s about time to make an official commitment to a local church? Each of the Lord’s sheep needs a sheepfold and a pastor in order to grow spiritually, and that includes you. We all have something to give and something to receive at a local church. Decide now to step up, sign up, and show up. If you are known to be a church hopper, commit to breaking that pattern by putting your anchor down for at least two years. Resolve to not leave at the first sign of distress or dissatisfaction.
There you have it—ten tips to consider in choosing a church home in 2015. As you are committed to joining a gym, show as much diligence, if not more, in joining a local church. You won’t regret it!
POSTED: January 3, 2015