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How I Would Choose a Church

Occasionally I get email from people who want my advice about what church they should attend. I can’t presume to tell anyone how to make a decision like that, but I can tell you how I would go about doing it.

If I were looking for a church, this would be my scorecard. I wouldn’t hold out until I found a church that got a perfect score, because there probably is no such church, and because my criteria might be flawed. Nevertheless, if I were looking for a church, I’d select one that scores high against these criteria.

The Pastoral Staff

Money

Most denominations require these standards or something very close to them, so in most cases we are just verifying that the congregation is obeying its own rules:

The Congregation

The Power Structure

Their Attitude Toward you as a Newcomer

Programs

If a church has about 100 members or more, it might have informal organizations that address the needs of the community or the congregation. These are called programs, and they are the church’s way of putting hands and feet on their faith. Give the church bonus points if it has programs that you would like to get involved in, such as a soup kitchen or a choir.

Amenities

The church obviously must have whatever amenities you or your family members need to attend it at all. ‘Amenities’ include such things as wheelchair ramps, handicapped-accessible restrooms, sufficient parking, a nursery for infants, or a sign-language interpreter.

Worship

Affiliation

You notice that I care that the congregation is affiliated with a denomination, but I am not too concerned about which denomination it is. That is because denominational affiliation brings accountability and discipline; but just knowing a congregation’s denomination doesn’t tell you much about its character. Congregations within the same denomination can be very different, while congregations in different denominations can be very similar.

This is what I would look for in a church. Perhaps this can help you develop your own set of criteria for choosing a church home for yourself.