Moving to a new city can be daunting. Between finding appropriate housing or discovering the best schools in the district, sometimes “church shopping” feels like another overwhelming task on the list. Yet we’re all built for community, and when you’re new to an area you want (and need) a church home quickly.
So what’s the best, easiest, and quickest way to find your church home? Though everyone’s journey to find his church home is different, here are a few tips to help you quickly narrow your search, so you can find the church community that’s been waiting for you.
- Listen to sermons online
Many churches post their sermons online, so you can begin listening to sermons even before you’ve moved to a new city. Listening to sermons can help you narrow your search dramatically and quickly especially in southern cities that have a church on every corner. Sermons can give you a sneak peek into the style of preaching at a particular church (e.g., topical, expository) and the depth of theology preached from the pulpit. Without even spending a Sunday morning in the pew, you can determine in a few short hours whether a church is possibly the right fit for you and worth a Sunday-morning visit.
- Read through websites
Most churches have a web presence. Explore a church’s website, including their list of beliefs. Read through the website top to bottom to find pictures of their members, stories of their ministries, lists of staff and leadership, etc. You can quickly narrow down your search of area churches by accessing their public information available online without even visiting on a Sunday morning.
- Ask for recommendations
Before you move, ask your friends, family, and coworkers if they know anyone who lives in your destination city. Small connections between friends of friends can reveal a church option you may not have tried or heard of otherwise. As you meet coworkers, realtors, neighbors, even fellow grocery-shoppers in your new city, tell them you’re new to the area and interested in finding a church. If they go to a church, they’ll gladly share that information with you or at least tell you some of the churches they’ve heard of in the area. (Then you’ll have another church or two to add to your list.) Be sure to ask why they like their church because a personal story and recommendation can help give you a sense of what that church is like. If your new neighborhood or apartment complex has a Facebook group, that forum can be a good place to ask for church recommendations.
- Seek out directories
Many cities have local listings of churches, and most denominations have online lists of churches that are part of their denomination. The online Yellow Pages also lists many churches. Visit the local Christian radio station’s website where many offer lists of local churches. If they don’t have an online church directory, many radio stations will email you a list if you ask. “I look on Christian events pages to see what events are in the area and who is hosting them,” Lauren Moore, a military wife and experienced mover, said. National Christian organizations, such as The Gospel Coalition, often have church directories available on their websites.
- Double your exposure
Sunday morning only comes around once a week: If you have a long list of churches to check out in person, consider visiting one church on Sunday morning and another Sunday night if it offers night services. Perhaps the church offers small groups or Bible studies during the week that you could try out before you spend your limited Sunday mornings sitting in their pew.
With these quick and effective tips for narrowing your list of good churches in your new city, you’ll be enjoying the fellowship of your new church family before you’ve even found all the good restaurants in town.