When I was growing up, my family always talked about going to church. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as we got for a long time. My mom would say, “We should go to church.” My dad would usually agree. We even picked a church to go to. There was a community church down the street from our house, and we decided that we would go there. But we never went.
Actually, I take that back. One Sunday, when I was 7 years old, we tried. We got up early and got dressed for church. After my mother listened to me throw a fit about not wanting to wear a dress, she settled for me wearing a nice sweater and pants. We got in the car, drove to the church, walked in the door, and found out that the service was just about to end. It had been so long since the time my mother first wrote down the time of the service, that by the time we actually went they had changed the service time. It’s understandable to see why it was 6 years before we tried again.
Becoming a churchgoer doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it out to be. The first and most important step is just choosing a church. You will have a much greater chance of succeeding in your goal and actually enjoying it if you are careful about choosing a church. Don’t just choose the church closest to your house. Try to choose a church that is a good fit for your family.
If you don’t like getting up early on Sunday, then don’t pick a church that only has a 9 a.m. service. Do some research and find a service that works for you. Maybe 10 or 11 a.m. will work for you. If you are not a morning person at all, then look for a church that has evening services. Many offer church services on Saturday evenings, and some even offer a service on Sunday evenings.
You also want to pick a church that you are going to feel comfortable at. When I was a child, I hated dressing up. If your kids (or you), don’t like getting into dress clothes, then pick a church where people dress casually. In many, if not most, Christian churches today, it is perfectly acceptable and normal to come to church in jeans and a t-shirt. If this sounds good to you, then find a church like this.
You also want to pick a church that is a good size for you. If you are the type of person who feels most comfortable when you can disappear into a crowd, with the likelihood that no one will know it is your first time, then think about choosing a larger church. If crowds intimidate you, and you want to be recognized as a first-timer so someone can show you where the nursery is and things like that, then choose a smaller church.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how exactly do I find this stuff out? How do I know what the dress code is or what the service time are or how big the church is? Well, choosing the right church might take some research.
While you may be tempted just to get on the internet and Google, “churches in (your city),” I would suggest starting with friends instead. While most churches these days do have websites that will give you a wealth of information, keep in mind that the internet is a marketing tool. The website is designed to make the church look appealing to you, the prospective churchgoer. By asking friends who go to church, you can find out more accurate information about how big the church is and what people usually where. You can also ask how long the service usually goes. If you are a first-time churchgoer, you probably don’t want to start with a 3-hour service. (Most church services usually average between 60 and 90 minutes).
Another benefit of asking a churchgoing friend is that they will probably offer to take you with them. Well, logistically, you could end up driving yourself. The point is, if you have a friend to walk you in, show you where to go, sit with you, and introduce you to some friends, then the whole experience will be a lot less intimidating.
Once you actually make your first visit, try to get the most out of the visit as possible. If the church has a registration card for visitors, take a minute to fill it out. Don’t worry, churches are not in the business of selling your personal information. They will most likely just keep you informed about special events and holiday services. You might also want to take a minute to introduce yourself to the pastor. Introduce yourself as a first-time visitor and feel free to ask the pastor any questions you have about the church. Pastors are always excited to meet a first-time visitor, and are more than happy to give their time to making you feel welcome and comfortable.
Many churches offer a guest packet of some sort, giving information about the church. Be sure to take this packet, as there are helpful resources in there about how to get connected at the church. If the church does not have this sort of packet, make sure you bring home the program from that Sunday. Inside most church programs is information about different groups that meet during the week, as well as special events. Consider going to a small group or a special event, as these are great opportunities to make friends at the church. If you have friends at the church, you will be more motivated to get up and go each weekend!
If you have the desire to begin attending church, then you probably realize the benefits. Churches can be like a second family and the support they provide is absolutely invaluable. They can also be a great resource for networking. More than that, a church is a place for Christians to gather together and encourage each other to keep going. Having faith can be hard sometimes, and while you don’t have to go to church to have faith, it can certainly help you keep it strong!