Anatomy of a Church Hunt

This past Sunday, I finally got the answer I had been searching for for weeks. I never would have thought that figuring out where to go (or stay) for church would be so taxing. I had been mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted with trying to figure out if I was supposed to stay at Grace or look elsewhere. The majority of my friends split off to three different churches over the past few months and none of them have seemed like where God is calling me or where I needed to be. Finally, after weeks of searching for a simple answer of direction as to whether to stay or go, God let me know it was time to begin looking elsewhere. I love Grace, but its not supposed to be my home church anymore.

This is the first time I’ve ever really gone “church hunting”. Growing up, we always went to the church where my dad preached – Advent Christian churches up and down the East Coast. When I went to college, I’ll admit that for a little while I didn’t go to church regularly. I tried a few local churches and then attended Park Street Church in Boston for a little while – but the commute on the T and missing lunch AND dinner in the cafeteria weren’t quite as worth it since I was a poor college student. At the end of my senior year, a church was started on the campus called The Journey, which I quickly became attached to. The sad part is, as I mentioned previously, this was at the end of my senior year, so it was sort of a short lived church home. After I graduated, I spent the summer working for SoulFest and spent a good amount of time with the Stocks who introduced me to Tent of Meeting, one of Grace’s services centered around prayer and worship on Tuesday nights. This is how I got introduced to Grace Fellowship where I’ve been attending since before I even lived in Nashua.

So, as you see, I’ve never really hunted for a church. This is an all new experience for me. And it’s even harder because my beliefs have changed from when I was younger and I’m not sure which churches or denominations will continue to nurture my faith with the things I believe now. With all of this said, because I know I’m not the only person who has had trouble looking for a church, I’ll give you a rundown over the next few weeks as I look for a new church home and how it all goes. : )

When you visit any church or church website, they will usually list for you their beliefs, where they are and the ministries they offer. Before looking at any specific churches, I wanted to figure out which denominations I could include in my search besides non-denominational churches, to figure out what churches were in my area, and to pick out which ministries I wanted to find in my new church.

“WHAT WE BELIEVE”

I started out my hunt last night by looking up different denominations and their core beliefs to help me figure out what types of churches would suit me. Now, congregational and non-denominational churches are a whole different ball game since all are different, but they are definitely included in my search. But churches with their denomination in their name or affiliated with certain denominations follow certain beliefs and principles, and I wanted to be able to sort through which ones would be best fit for me. Wikipedia helped me out with a decent portion of this. : )

“WHERE WE ARE”

As I mentioned previously, finding a church that is within reasonable driving distance is really important to me. So, with the help of Google maps, I typed in “churches near Nashua, NH” and looked through the local results, clicking on the church websites for the ones that interested me. I knew I didn’t want more than a 30 minute commute to and from church, so that helped narrow things down. With the websites open, I began to look into the churches more. You all may laugh at me, but I think it’s really important for a church to have a website these days. I can discuss that some other time if any one wants to know why.

“WHAT WE DO”

Because I want so much to be involved in a community at my new church, I already knew that I wanted more involvement than just Sunday worship. Whether it’s a womens ministry, young adults, life groups, arts ministries or more, I wanted to find a church that truly created a community out of those who fellowship there. Missions outside the church to Christians and non-Christians locally and internationally were also important to me.

THE CHURCHES

I went through so many readings on doctrines, ministries, beliefs, opportunities, missions and service times you might just call me insane, but I managed to narrow it down to 8 churches which I am going to look at more in-depth. Below are a list of the churches and information I have gathered thus far about their service times, ministries, beliefs, etc.

  • Crossway Christian Church (3.8 miles)
    • Service Times: 8:30am, 10:00am, 11:30am
    • Ministries of Interest: CI5 (5 minute intro to Crossway after each service), Welcome Lunch, Life groups, Women’s Ministry
    • Other Info: The various “welcome” opportunities that Crossway offers really makes it seem very easy to get connected with the church family.
  • Faith Baptist Church (8.1 miles)
    • Service Times: 10:00am
    • Ministries of Interest: Pot lucks regularly scheduled, Women’s Ministry, College & Career (Young Adults) Ministry
    • Other Info: There wasn’t a whole lot of information on this church that I could find without dropping by, but I do know that the building looks less formal from the outside (which I like) and that “spirit gifted and empowered service” are a key belief at the church.
  • Riverside Christian Church (10.2 miles)
    • Service Times: 10:30am
    • Ministries of Interest: Small groups, Women’s Ministry
    • Other Info: I had heard about this church from someone a while ago who mentioned how wonderful their worship experiences were, and that’s definitely apparent on their website. They also have artists come to their church for worship nights – like Andy Needham who is coming this weekend.
  • Faith Worship Center (9.1 miles)
    • Service Times: 10:00am
    • Ministries of Interest: Home groups, Women’s Ministry, Intercessory Prayer
    • Other Info: Also offers ministries in dream interpretation, prophetic, SOZO (healing) and deliverance ministries (conquering emotional/spiritual challenges at their root) which I’m interested in learning more about what they do and how they work.
  • Calvary Chapel (16.1 miles)
    • Service Times: 9:00am, 11:00am
    • Ministries of Interest: Home groups, Women’s Ministry, Young Adults Ministry (Crossroads)
    • Other Info: Crossroads seems extremely welcoming and involving, with events every Saturday night that are always new and meetings throughout the week for those interested. This just seems like a great community of Young Adults to get involved with.
  • Bedford Foursquare Church (14.1 miles)
    • Service Times: 10:00am
    • Ministries of Interest: Home groups, Women’s Ministry, Young Adults Ministry (Oasis)
  • NewSong Community Church (15.7 miles)
    • Service Times: 9:30am
    • Ministries of Interest: Small groups, Connect Groups (engaging more in NCC community), Creative Arts Ministry, Women’s Ministry
    • Other Info: The graphics on the website definitely caught my attention, but I will say that they are drawing me in with their attention on the creative and using all of our gifts and talents to help the church body and to help all of God’s creation.
  • Manchester Vineyard Church (21.7 miles)
    • Service Times: 10:00am
    • Ministries of Interest: Connection lunch (for newcomers), Women’s Ministry, Connection Groups (engaging more in the MVC community)
    • Other Info: The vineyard church also seems designed around welcoming newcomers while discipling and nurturing current members to reach out and impact the community with the truth and reality of God.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to attend some of these churches and figure out where God wants me. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. Hopefully it won’t take too long to figure out. : ) God bless you all!

Advertisements

2 Comments to “Anatomy of a Church Hunt”

  1. Community is so important (saw that in your last post). If it weren’t for the personal contact I got through a phone call during the week and then the church seeking me out to serve on Sundays, I don’t know that I would have stayed at Elevation. The fact that a staff member called me after my first Sunday and they actively sought out and encouraged church members to serve for a purpose was huge. You don’t get a lot of that in churches today. First impressions at church tell a lot – that’s something else to look at. Were people welcoming? Did they provide ways to get plugged in? Do people say hello? (not just those that work for the church, but volunteers, those who attend, etc.) I will never forget my first Sunday at Elevation and it’s because of the experience I had in the middle of the week – a phone call – and then the next Sunday when someone recognized me (WOW factor) and remembered my name. That says a lot about the heart of a church and the people and culture they are creating.

  2. Praying for you and that you clearly find where God wants you. Have you figured out which order you will try them out in? Just curious – that’s all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: