Monday, September 8, 2014

Moving? How to Tackle the Church Search

Who likes to move? NO ONE. Well, not many people. It often involves trucks, heavy lifting, scratched furniture, and missing items. Much bigger than that, it sometimes means a new job, new neighborhood, new roads, and new church.

My husband, J, and I have been married for almost six years now. We realize we’re certainly not veterans on the topic of marriage or parenting; however, we have started fresh four times since we’ve called ourselves a family. During that time, we really feel like God has revealed to us and equipped us in ways that have made each transition smooth and timely.
As Donna previously stated, all three of us (bloggers, I mean) have now moved away from our sweet little island. This should help explain the intense pause that’s been going on for quite some time. The latest move my family finished was an unexpected play on God’s part; He loves doing that to us. If you recall, we left Puerto Rico in late February, moved to Dallas in April, and then moved to Houston in July. Boom, boom, boom. This tends to be our story and our song. As we’ve looked back at all of our relocations, even prior to initially leaving the mainland, we’ve noticed a pattern that God has taken us through.  Just about everything we do to settle into an area revolves around one thing: church. Ah, the church search. Here’s what we have learned to do over the years to make this painless, fast, and, we feel, Biblical. Two steps, and…GO!

1. Be Close to Home
This is near and dear to our hearts. With one exception, we have not been more than two miles or so away from the church we’ve attended. When we lived in Irving, Tx, we went to Valley Ranch Baptist Church, and we could walk there from our apartment. The second time we lived in the Dallas area, we were in Garland. We attended Casa View Baptist Church, and (aside from lacking sidewalks) it was walkable. We have just started attending Cy-Fair Christian Church in Cypress, Tx, and it’s probably just out of walking range. To be fair and share our latest story, it was the third church we visited. The one closest to us is a mega church with a pastor on a screen (I’m not fond of that). The second we visited was further than we first thought. I found it online when I was looking for 5Ks. We felt like it was just too far.

This has been more important in our lives the past few years than ever before since we only have one vehicle. Nonetheless, we truly believe this to be the way to start fresh. Church is about community. Living life together. I’m not a Bible scholar, but it doesn’t seem like the New Testament church was able to shop around all over their city. Walking was the majority of their transportation. They didn’t seek out the church with the best children’s ministry, praise band, or coffee bar. I’m hesitant as I type because I know how things worked. I’ve grown up in the church and, at different times in my life, I’ve worked in the church. This is touchy panties-in-a-wad material. Here’s the deal, one of the best sermons on this topic I’ve ever heard was by our pastor in Puerto Rico at Church Without Walls (which was the only exception to our distance beliefs, but I’ll get to that). He spoke of how the New Testament church was a body…the way the church is intended to be. They were filled with people who had a variety of spiritual gifts, and that’s how they thrived. Although we are BLESSED beyond measure to have church the way we have it now in Western Culture, we have changed the dynamic into something it maybe wasn’t intended to be changed into. I do have a preference as to how I like the music during worship. I went to school focused on communication, so I appreciate effective teaching. Over the years, I have been a part of student ministries that struggled and some that have thrived. I prefer home groups to Sunday school, and I like when preschool areas have those handy sticker systems for kiddos and parents. BUT here’s the deal…if I drive all over the city looking for a church that has absolutely everything I want it to have, I will never stop searching. Churches are made up of people, and that, automatically makes them imperfect.
1 Corinthians 12:18-20 says, “But God made our bodies with many parts, and He has put each part just where He wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.”  He has put us where He wants us.

The only time we have ever driven far to go to church was in Puerto Rico. That was because we decided for that area of our lives, we needed to find a truth-teaching and English-speaking place to worship. Now, even though this wasn’t close to home, we found it a lot like the Biblical church set-up. There weren’t many options in English, so it was filled with English speakers from all over our side of the island. Truth was preached. There wasn’t fancy music, but there was worship. There wasn’t a nursery, but the babies didn’t mind. There wasn’t even a building, but when it rained, it just literally brought us closer together. That’s what it’s about.

If you’ve just moved, I’d challenge you to visit the closest church near you. Check out the website. See if it is part of an association. If they teach Bible and they believe Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we can live eternally with Him in Heaven…move on to step two.

I’m very unapologetic here. This is for new believers and veteran Christian alike. J and I always take note as to how churches respond when we fill out a new visitor card. There is a responsibility as the church to follow-up with new visitors and see where they’re at in their lives. However, there is also a responsibility on our part to dive in and get involved. Go to a new member class even if you’re not ready to join. If there is no new member class because it’s a small church, talk to the pastor. I am passionate that all parents of preschoolers should volunteer in the preschool area. Other people watch my kids, I should take a turn too. J and I love working with students, so we find the student ministers and ask what that looks like for us in their ministry. I like to find out quickly what mission and ministries the church is involved with locally and globally.

The Lord will provide something you are interested in. If you don’t feel like you’re interested in anything they’re offering, then start something new. James screams it out in these verses: 2:14,17, “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone…So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless.”  Sorry, I’m not sorry, but being shy isn’t an excuse either. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” I’m not saying that everyone needs to teach a Sunday school class the first month they move…or ever. I am saying that getting involved is important and Biblical. When you’ve settled down at a church, God has you there for a reason. Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

Getting past the yuckiness of the boxes and the paperwork after a move is so satisfying. Finding community soon after is even better. Happy moving!



  1. Loved this! Great points and a great read!

  2. The entire sermon at our new church on Sunday was related to this. The pastor said that when we "shop around" for churches with a set of criteria that must be met, we miss the point of going to church all together. Being a Christian isn't supposed to be easy. We aren't supposed to pick and choose what we want to get out of a church. Yes, we all do it and of course we need to find a place that we are comfortable. But not too comfortable because then we likely aren't doing what God is calling us to do. Thanks for this advice. S and I are both struggling with missing Church Without Walls and the intimacy and simplicity of the services there.


  3. Glad to hear the feedback and thoughts! I miss both of you ladies!