Finding a Christian church that fits you and your family can be very tough. Visiting different churches takes time, and even after you have found one you like, you wonder if there's a better fit somewhere else. To help, here are some questions to ask and some tips to employ.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK
1. What TYPE of WORSHIP SERVICE am I looking for?
For many this question can seem insignificant. However, when they walk into a worship service and feel completely lost, they realize they should have thought this one through. There are two main TYPES of worship services:
TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SERVICES, or "liturgical worship services," rely on the structure of ancient traditions of Christianity. One example would be the liturgy of certain Lutheran churches. Like most traditional worship services, they follow a specified pattern from beginning to end, and even a specified pattern throughout the year. People can find these patterns helpful and comforting.
FLEXIBLE WORSHIP SERVICES still adhere to some ancient traditions (like singing worship songs, preaching, baptism, and the Lord's Supper), but do not follow a pattern or liturgy within the service or within the church year. People find these kinds of services more engaging because they vary so greatly. People also find these services more inviting because you do not need to be familiar with a pattern or liturgy.
At Hulen Street, we find that flexible worship services work best for us.
2. What STYLE of MUSIC do I enjoy?
Music makes up 40-60% of most church services. If you cannot connect to the STYLE of MUSIC or it greatly bothers you, that church might not be a fit.
Something else to keep in mind is the style of music you listen to in the car might not be the same you would enjoy in a worship service.
MODERN STYLES of MUSIC use electric instruments and rely heavily on a driving beat with an emphasis on lyrics. The style focuses on the audience learning about Jesus while singing to him.
CONTEMPORARY STYLES of MUSIC use electric and acoustic instruments and rely on repetition and familiarity. This style helps include everyone in the singing, so the lyrics are written to be memorable and catchy.
HYMNIC STYLES of MUSIC use acoustic instruments like pianos, organs, acoustic guitars, and symphonic instruments. The style maintains the stanza-style format of hymns and relies heavily on nostalgia.
At Hulen Street Church, we use a modern style of worship with a steady dose of re-worked hymns. You can see our worship sets to get an idea of our song selection.
3. What PREACHING STYLE can I listen to?
Preaching is simply the explanation and application of God's Word. The way different people preach, however, differs greatly. For clarity, we will summarize three main categories:
PREACHING FOR THE MIND means you are in tune with mental stimulation. You want to learn something in a sermon.
PREACHING FOR THE HEART means you want to personally connect with the sermon. You need to know the preacher is emotionally genuine.
PREACHING FOR THE HANDS means you focus on applying the sermon. You want to be able to go out and act on what you have heard.
These three are not always at odds, and it's very possible to find a PREACHING STYLE that encompasses all three. Be aware of what you gravitate toward, and how that preaching style might fit.
At Hulen Street Church, you can listen to our sermons online and get a feel of our preaching style.
TIPS YOU SHOULD EMPLOY
1. LOOK AT THE CHURCH'S WEBSITE.
Many churches put a lot of content of their websites - sermons, events, pictures, articles - all of which can help give you a sense of their identity. Also, don't skip the church's Facebook page, it can include more recent pictures and content than their website.
Check out Hulen Street Church's Facebook page.
2. ASK FRIENDS ABOUT THEIR CHURCH.
Ask someone you know who attends a church what their church is like. You might not think you know many that go to church, but once you begin the conversation, there will likely be a few surprises in your circle of friends. Make sure you ask open-ended questions ("What is your church like?") and listen for a while. More questions will present themselves as you talk.
3. LOOK AT SITES THAT REVIEW CHURCHES.
It might sound strange, but many common sites include reviews of churches. Yelp's church reviews and Google Map's church reviews tend to be the more respected sites that include ratings. Although one review is not the whole story, it might let you know the impression the church makes on people. Here is our church's review on Yelp, Google Maps, and FaithStreet.
4. CHECK social media posts.
Many sites, including Websta, archive social media posts taken at a certain location. Just search for the name of the church and you should find more than a few posts to look at.