How to Find a Good Church

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Finding a good church can be very difficult. Before making recommendations, I’d like to say a few things first. As a churchgoer since age 6, and as former pastor, it seems important to understand WHY some have a hard time finding a church where they feel comfortable. Here are some of the reasons given:

Now, each reason is different, and shouldn’t be lumped in with any other. Also, each reason may be good or bad, depending. Let’s be honest: church isn’t really about ME, or about YOU. It’s about me and you taking part in the life of the community of faith… that is, you and I should be involved with other Christians. There’s no rule that we have to go to one SPECIFIC church, of course. We also don’t have to love the preaching, or the preacher, or the music, or the location, or the name on the sign, or the seats, or the name tags they ask you to wear, or the size of their parking spaces.

Some people look for another church and find that they’re just as unhappy in the new place as they were in the old one… because the problem isn’t really the church. The problem is WHY they go to church. I don’t know you well enough to criticize or complement you, but I think it’s important to ask: is church primarily a place where others give to you, or where you give to others, or both?

Believers who are less mature NEED more given to them. That’s natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re a less mature believer, you should work to find a place where mature Christians will hang with you, help you learn, and walk through life together. More mature believers need LESS given to them. That’s natural, and nothing to be proud of. If you’re a more mature believer, you should work to find a place where you can exercise your gifts, talents, and abilities in service to others.

The most mature believers recognize that we all, really, need both. We need to give AND receive from each other. When you’re involved at one place long enough, you’ll be able to build relationships where you depend on loved ones, and they depend on you. That’s not something you find when you first walk in the door of a new place, especially after leaving the old one over a complaint. Give yourself some time to heal from past hurts, and give them some time to get to know you.

My wife and I feel FAR more connected in our current congregation than in our old one… after 14 years at the old one, we still didn’t feel ‘on the inside,’ and I was volunteer staff, a board member, and fill-in preacher! After a couple of years at the new one, we felt very much at home. Why? Because I made it a point to spend time with leaders. Sunday school teachers, elders, staff members, board members, and pastors. We got INVOLVED. We found a Sunday School class right away, and attended pretty much every single week. We found a “life group,” and showed up. We looked on a regular basis for people to greet, and sometimes THEY were new… so the new folks greeted the newer folks, and made friends. Notice that it took some time to feel connected.

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me giving you this advice. I have a goal: that you would find a GREAT church, that you would be heavily invested in the success of the congregation, that you would discover and use the gifts God has given you to build the Kingdom, and that – should you ever move away – you would feel like you’ve made both good friends and family while you’re there. Doesn’t THAT sound nice?

Of course, the most important part is that they preach and teach what the Bible actually says. That’s one of the main reasons I would recommend an Evangelical Free church. That’s where we’ve chosen to attend. I wasn’t clear on who they were at first, but they’re 

  1. evangelical. That means a) they believe they should live as Jesus taught, even if it’s not popular or trendy, and b) they’re part of the ‘free church’ tradition, which means that each church is locally governed.
  2. They’re not perfect, of course. In fact, they may be LESS perfect than before I started going there. 😉 You may also make them less perfect, or maybe more perfect. The point is: they tend to preach from the Bible, rather than preaching the pastor’s opinions. They have local leaders, which is often very good. Being locally governed, local churches are often more involved in missionary work, service to the community, and so on. Having grown up and ministered in a denominational church (nothing wrong with that), I found that we usually ‘outsourced’ such things to the central folks at headquarters.

There may be an ‘E-Free’ church near you. I’d start there. If those don’t work, I’d be happy to recommend others. I’d start with the one closest to you, so your actual neighbors may be the people you hang with.

NOTE: no, you don’t need to go to the same kind of church that I go to. The point is that you’re looking for a good church, and it makes sense for me to recommend actual churches that I would check out. I’m giving the same advice here on my website that I would give you over lunch, if we were alone. If you’re wondering about a specific church in your area, I can do a little digging and look into them for you… just let me know.

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2 responses to “How to Find a Good Church”

  1. Alice Carroll says:

    You made a good point that being part of a community is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to choosing a church. I’d like to find a trendy church one of these days so that it will be easier for my future kids to get into regular worships. Nowadays, I think it’s a lot more tricky to get kids to focus on developing their faith.

    • Tony says:


      With respect, I would not look for a trendy church. Believe it or not, most younger people DO like trendy… but they’re usually more interested in being around people who care about them, who are willing to treat them like valuable people with their own opinions, and who are willing to listen to their questions and give them straight answers. Even if those answers are “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” That’s not trendy. As a former youth pastor, and as a former teacher in public schools, I can say that trendy is attractive… but getting kids to focus on developing their faith isn’t trendy. It’s better than trendy.

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