"Your church, in many ways, helps to shape who you are and your relationship with God."
Religion is an important part of family life for many individuals. Although many may already have a church that they attend regularly for religious services, a lot of people are still looking. They might be interested in switching religions or denomination, or perhaps have moved to a new area. Perhaps having children has made you want to return to a house of worship or attend church for the first time in your life. Whatever the motivation, the decision is an important one. As Daryl Evans explains, "Choosing a church is one of the most important decisions that one can make in his/her life . . . maybe only second behind choosing a spouse to marry. Your church, in many ways, helps to shape who you are and your relationship with God."
When considering various churches in order to choose the right one, there are a few factors to consider prior to selecting the church that will work best for your family.
Perhaps one of the first considerations that must be taken into account is the type of religion which you practice. If you wish to stay with your current denomination, make a list of all of the churches in the area which fit the criteria and then review the options from there. For those who are open to a change, consider what it is that you and your family are looking for in the way of ideology and religious beliefs and select a church that follows such beliefs.
It may also be wise to choose a church which is in the local vicinity. Although some may only visit the church once a week, others go to their church a couple days out of the week or more. The latter group of individuals will especially find it helpful to belong to a church that is not too far away from home.
Members of the Church
You and your family should also visit the church and get to meet some of the members beforehand to see if these individuals are ones whom you can see yourselves getting along with in the church community. Although you will only get a glimpse of what the members are truly like when you visit the church, it is still a good way to learn what these individuals believe in and if they are likely to be in stride with your beliefs as well.
If you are not an early riser, a Sunday morning service at eight o'clock in the morning may not be for you. Check to see if there are other options for attending services. For example, many churches offer Sunday or Wednesday evening services or morning or evening Bible studies throughout the week. It is not uncommon in many modern churches to find a service on a Friday, or more often, Saturday evening. These weekend evening services tend to feature more contemporary music than the other services, and in general, draw a younger crowd of teens, singles, and young couples.
Programs for Members
Do you have a young family or plans to start a family? Then you need to make sure that the church in which you have decided to plant yourself and your children or your future children has age-appropriate programs for the kids. Are all the other couples in the "young married" group fifteen years or more your senior? Is there an opportunity to build friendships and nurture bonds with your peers? If you have teenagers, is there a thriving youth program with leaders who have a love and a calling for the special challenges that come with ministering to teens?
Perhaps the programs that are offered for members are of less importance to you in your search for a church home than are the opportunities for reaching out to the community. If you are volunteer-minded, a place of worship's commitment to caring for impoverished children, women in domestic violence situations, or teaching illiterate prisoners to read may be the deciding factor that sways your church choice. Although it is certainly possible to volunteer for such organizations without maintaining a church affiliation, there is something to be said for regular communication and connection with people who clearly share the same values that you do.
Choosing a church is a big decision and not always an easy choice. Not everyone feels that they can be edified in the church they grew up in or in the one where they got married. With careful consideration, and the willingness to ask questions of others and of yourself - and to answer them honestly, you can find a church that is right for you and yours.