We are now a month or so into a new semester. Students are getting into the routine of reading, writing, and attending class. They are learning to survive with less sleep and more caffeine. Of all the things that happen in the first month or so of a new semester, one of the most important is finding and joining a new church.
A common temptation among new students is “church-shopping,” or bouncing from church to church, visiting a new service every other week, being enamored by an event, and never actually plugging into the life of a specific church community. This phenomenon is not unique to seminary students the same thing happens in college towns across the country. Christian students move away from their home church, and then find it difficult to connect with a new church in their new town.
However, your survival and spiritual development depend on your active engagement in the ministry of a local church in this area.
choosing a church wisely
How should you select a church? Here are 4 questions you should ask yourself when considering where you might put down some roots.
1 - Do you like it?
There are some great churches. They come in different sizes and styles. The differences don’t make one right and the other wrong. There are simply different ways of worshiping God and fulfilling his mission.
Choose a church that you feel comfortable attending and can enthusiastically invite others to join you.
2 - Does the preacher preach the Word?
In this area, we are blessed with many good churches with good preachers. However, remember that one of the primary marks of a church is “the word rightly preached.” As you select a church, make sure that the man who stands in the pulpit each Sunday believes the Bible is God’s Word and that he preaches it accordingly.
3 - Are you willing to attend a small group?
In any church, discipleship happens in small groups. The churches in our area have different methods of grouping. Some have traditional Sunday School. Others only have home groups. Some have a mixture of the two.
As you join, make sure that you connect with a group of people that make up a cross-section of society. Don’t look for a “seminary student” group. Don’t let the discipleship or accountability group from school be a substitute for local church community.
4 - Is there a place for you to serve?
It isn’t fair for you to expect to be placed in a position of leadership the first week you attend a church. In fact, that may be a sign of a problem. However, you are attending seminary as a means for training and development in ministry. As you consider joining a church, talk with the pastor or other church leaders and ask them how you can serve. You are not looking for a title or stage, but you want to serve the body of Christ in any way possible.
As you look for a church, don’t over complicate the process. Also, don’t let the process drag out too long. You have been in town for a month. It is time to make a decision!