I have a confession. I’m shopping for a church. Please don’t get me wrong. This is not a normal thing for me. I’ve been a faithful member of a church for more than 28 years. I consider my church home a vital part of my life, and I take membership seriously. But, I’ve moved to Nashville in the past month, and I find myself asking the questions:
- Where does God want me to invest a significant part of my life?
- Where will I make real relationships?
- Where can I serve and use my gifts?
I’ve visited a few congregations, and I want to make a few observations as an “outside” person who is walking through your church door. I’m not trying to be critical, but if you are a ministry leader, I want to give you some practical ways you can make a good first impression.
1. I’m looking at your church website. Your website is my first impression—before I ever step foot on your parking lot. I’m looking for the times of your services, directions, your statement of faith, an introduction to your staff, and what kinds of ministries you offer.
2. I don’t want to fill out your visitor card—especially on my first visit. It’s not that I don’t want you to contact me. I’m just not ready. While I plan to make a commitment to a church at some point, I’m flying under the radar on that first visit. Please don’t be offended if I don’t make the effort.
3. I’m watching your people. These could be my future friends and future biblical community. I’m observing how they interact. Are they excited to see each other? Do they exude friendliness toward each other? Is this a congregation where I see my husband and I finding our place to serve? By observing your members, I’m getting a good feel for how people interact. In other words, how is your group ministry? Whether you call it Sunday School, Connection Groups, or something else, I know I’m going to grow spiritually when I’m around others who have a desire to study God’s Word.
Can I tell you what I’m not looking for?
1. I’m not looking for free coffee and donuts. While this is a nice gesture, I care more about your theology than whether you serve fair trade coffee. I care more about how much you give toward missions and feeding others than feeding me.
2. I’m not basing my decision on the music. I learned a long time ago that preferences and styles—or even the volume—does not equate to whether I can worship. I’m content as long as I’m singing with others and lifting high the name of Jesus.
3. I’m not looking for how you can serve me. I’m looking for ways I can serve others. I promise you don’t have to offer me a free gift or a special parking place.
4. I’m not looking for a flashy preacher. I’m not concerned about his appearance or even his preaching performance. I just want him to genuinely care about his flock and have a gospel-centered approach to the Bible. I want him to be passionate about God’s Word and be faithful to not only preach it, but live it.
I’m hoping that I’m not a church shopper for long. The sooner I find a church home, the sooner Nashville will feel more like home.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.