7 Pieces of Advice for New Christians Looking for a Church

There are so many things happening in a local church that can be confusing. How do you pick one? Here are seven pieces of advice for those who are new believers looking for a local church.

Borrowed Light
Updated Nov 07, 2023
7 Pieces of Advice for New Christians Looking for a Church

Welcome to the family! As a new believer, you likely have a hunger to connect with fellow believers. This is true even if you also have a bit of trepidation. Finding a new church can be scary.

There are so many things happening in a local church that can be confusing. Depending on your location, there might be several options to choose from. How do you pick one?

Here are seven pieces of advice for those who are new believers looking for a local church.

1. Start with What You Do Know

I would venture a guess that your coming to Christ had to do with a relationship you have with someone else. If they are in the area in which you live — start there.

Go to church with that person if possible. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that this church will be a good fit, it’s the most likely starting place.

If the person who introduced you to Jesus doesn’t live in the same community as you, ask them questions about their own church experience.

Is there a similar church in your area? Ask your friend what denomination they are and give that church a try.

2. Give it at Least Two Weeks

I am a local church pastor, and I can tell you that some Sundays are simply weird. The sermon might be off, the music might not come together, people might be in a strange mood, technology might bug out, or it could just be a weird Sunday.

Or the opposite could happen. Some Sundays everything flows together, the sermon is powerful, the music is impactful, etc. In order to get a feel for a church it’s a good idea to give it at least two to three weeks.

Yes, there are exceptions to this. There may be some experiences that are so far gone they don’t merit a second visit. More likely than not, though, most churches will merit at least another visit.

Consider going to some of the other services as well. Go to a Wednesday evening, go to a prayer meeting, visit a small group. This will give you a feel for whether or not you can fit into this community of believers.

3. Do They Preach the Gospel You Heard?

There will likely be some words thrown around that you don’t yet understand — we Christians can be kind of weird about using jargon and insider language.

Write some of those words down and feel free to ask questions (that’s another way to tell if a church is for you — what do they do with your questions?).

There is one thing, though, which should be absolutely clear and should be evident not only in the words used but, in the culture. This is that the Gospel of Jesus is the central focus.

Listen to the sermon carefully. When the preacher gives application points are they leaving you in your own hands or in the finished work of Jesus?

Is the message “Do good, be better” or is it focused on what Christ has accomplished on our behalf? Churches can get distracted and experience mission drift. It’s best for your growth to be in a local church that is centered upon Jesus.

4. Are There Places You Can Serve?

As a believer in Jesus, you have been given the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us spiritual gifts which we are supposed to exercise in the body of Christ. You might not yet know exactly what your spiritual gifts are — but what are you passionate about?

Are there ministries in the church you could be excited about? Where could you serve? Does it feel like all the “positions” are already taken? There should be a balance here.

If a church is overly eager to “put you to work” it might be a yellow flag (it could simply be that they love getting people involved early, or it could mean they are desperate and unhealthy).

On the other hand, if a church seems reluctant to give serving opportunities this may also be a caution (or it might mean they are cautious and caring shepherds).

Serving in a ministry can also help you develop deeper connections and contribute to the community.

5. Assess Their Heart for Outreach and Discipleship

A healthy church will be passionate about both discipleship and outreach. Some churches can excel in encouraging members, strengthening their own tribe, and increasing in biblical knowledge yet shrivel when it comes to being a refuge for the broken people in the community and sharing the gospel.

On the other hand, some churches might thrive in the area of outreach — providing seeker-sensitive services, programs to reach the broken, and a heart of welcoming the outcasts. Yet, the same church struggles to provide spiritual growth for those who have come to know Jesus.

You’ll want to pause if a church doesn’t have a quality discipleship plan for helping believers grow. As a new believer, this will be especially important. You’ll also want to pause if the church doesn’t have a heart for the “outsider.’

6. Attend a Newcomer Class

Many churches will offer a class for new members or prospective members. Attend this if possible.

These classes can provide you with a deeper understanding of the church's vision, mission, and doctrinal beliefs. It's an excellent way to learn more about the church and its leadership. Be prepared to ask questions.

In the Book of Acts, we see that the early church met together frequently for fellowship and worship, taught biblical doctrine, practiced baptism, and shared the Lord’s Supper. They prayed together, and they equipped the saints for the work of ministry.

Think of a few questions you could ask about these areas. Ask for a statement of faith. Does it square with what you believe?

If there are areas where they do not quite line up — how does leadership handle these differences? How do you handle the differences? Is it still a good fit?

7. What Are You Looking For?

I have intentionally made this the last piece of advice. There are some preferences that we might need to sacrifice. If a church has a thriving children’s ministry, dynamic worship, warm greeting, and yet they don’t teach the Bible, then it’s not the church you should attend.

Likewise, a church might teach the scriptures faithfully but struggle in children’s ministry, engaging worship, and even greeting.

While these are certainly concerns — and might even be deal breakers — if given the choice between the two churches you should pick the one that teaches the Bible.

But preferences do matter. It is important that your entire family feels welcomed and like they can grow. It’s a good idea to weigh a few questions as you consider churches:

Does theological tradition matter to you?

What style of worship are you looking for (traditional, contemporary, blended)?

Are you looking for a church that centers on the Lord’s Supper or the preached Word?

Does the church need to have ethnic diversity?

Do you have any special needs, or children with special needs, that must be considered?

Does size matter? Does location?

Are there any doctrinal issues that are dealbreakers for you?

Are there people there who you could develop friendships with?

How are the children’s programs?

Many of these questions can be answered before you even attend. Consider looking at their social media pages, reading doctrinal statements they have online, or even calling the church and speaking with a staff member.

Make a plan to visit churches that seem to not only line up with your passion but also those that appear to be centered on Jesus and His Word.

If you find a church that you like and one that is faithful to Christ, then consider attending for a couple of months then take the plunge and ask about membership. Devote yourself to the local church and its gospel ministries.

For further reading:

Why Do People Go to Church?

5 Things to Do When You Don't Feel Like Going to Church Anymore

Should the Church Be Seeker Sensitive?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Wirestock

Mike Leake is husband to Nikki and father to Isaiah and Hannah. He is also the lead pastor at Calvary of Neosho, MO. Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and Jesus Is All You Need. His writing home is http://mikeleake.net and you can connect with him on Twitter @mikeleake. Mike has a new writing project at Proverbs4Today.


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