10 Lessons Learned from a Summer of Church Shopping

By Bryan Moak  |  Vice President of Church Strengthening

Last year I wrote an article sharing some lessons I learned as my wife and I were looking for a church home here in Chicago. Several people have asked about the article over this past year, so I thought I would repost it. I hope it will be helpful for you as you begin a new church season this fall.

Since coming on staff with Converge MidAmerica, my wife and I have been confronted with something we’ve never dealt with before – finding a church home. It has been eye opening, after so many years as a pastor, to see our churches from the perspective of a first-time guest. I thought I would share 10 lessons I have learned (in no particular order) in this first-time adventure visiting several of our CMA churches. I trust they will be helpful for you as you continue to reach your community for Christ.

1. Finding a church home is hard.

  • Both my wife and I have a new appreciation for the difficulty of finding a church. It is not easy.
  • A note to pastors: Don’t be shy to say why your church is the best place to attend. Ask your guests what they are looking for in a church, and explain to them how your church uniquely checks off those boxes. 

2. Our facilities are important.

  • First impressions matter to new people. Don’t overlook the little things, like fixing the proverbial “rips in the carpet.”

3. Hospitality must be a developed culture throughout the church, and not simply a ministry for a few volunteers.

  • Treat Sunday morning as a ministry to those you don’t know, not an opportunity to catch up with your friends.
  • A note about Meet and Greets: They can be too long and potentially awkward for guests as they wait...and wait for someone to greet them. 

4. Don’t assume people know anything.

  • Constantly repeat who you are, what you are about, and why you exist.

5. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing.

  • Don’t simply create a “formula” for your services because it works in other places. Each church has a unique DNA, so be what God has made you to be. Surprise me. 

6. We need to make sure Jesus is the focus of our services.

  • Don’t forget that we gather because of Him. We are His bride! Make sure He is the subject of the morning, and that the gospel is repeatedly shared throughout.

7. Prayer needs to have greater emphasis in our worship.

  • Don’t make prayer an afterthought. Make prayer a priority in each service. Intentionally and regularly plan times to teach and practice coming to the Throne Room in prayer. 

8. We have really capable preachers in our churches.

  • I praise God for strong Biblical teaching that has been engaging and challenging.

9. We need more churches.

  • We found that there are not nearly as many of our churches in close driving distance as we thought there were. Our churches need to plant churches!

10. I love the church.

  • Not only do I love it, I NEED it. I am more convinced than ever that you cannot grow well in your faith without a church family.