How do you choose a church? This is a question thousands of students will be asking themselves this September as they leave home for the first time and head to cities around the country that they know practically nothing about. Here are 5 principles in choosing a Church (Some of these tips are also useful for anyone looking for a church!).
1. Choose A church! Any church!* Quite often CUs and other Christian groups on campus offer Church searches and take groups of freshers on tours around churches in the first few weeks of term. These churches are usually well established, respected and student friendly. Often a student will find a church right away that they feel comfortable in and stay to worship for the year and even longer. Sometimes, though, students drift and don’t make a decision and church becomes something that they do when they go back home and not a part of life at uni. So our advice is to choose A church – ANY church and stick with it for a while.
2. A big part of being a part of a church is serving. Choose a church where there are opportunities to get involved and serve and then do it! You will quickly feel more part of the church as you get to know people in this way and they see you as an individual not just as ‘one of the students’.
3. Take some time to think about how best you engage with God and choose a church that helps you get there! We all know that churches vary stylistically – some use drums and guitars and some use an organ, some use banners and flags and some use a hymn book, some use liturgy and some have an emphasis on individual expression. There is nothing wrong with any of these approaches when done in earnest, so choose a church where you feel able to worship in a style that is useful to you!
4. Choose a church where the teaching challenges you. Go to a church that every now and again leaves you with something to think about or some practical action to take. (Maybe listen to a few sermons online beforehand if they are available). Find somewhere that challenges your comfort zones and helps you grow in your faith!
5. Find a church that supports you in your mission to be salt and light in the world – a church that is looking outward and seeking to serve the wider community and resource it’s members to do the same.
6. Don’t join a church you see to be perfect! There is no such thing as the perfect church because every church is full of people who are in the process of being perfected! Weigh up what is most important to you and although the church you eventually choose to worship at may not tick every box, you’ll find it much easier to find a church when you accept it won’t be perfect!
Wherever you end up we hope that your time at Uni will be an amazing experience where God will use you in ways far beyond your expectation!
*within reason! Make sure the church you are going to worships Jesus Christ as Lord (in practice as well as teaching), that they hold the Bible to be the Word of God and use it as their main resource for teaching, that their doctrine and practice agrees with the Bible (most churches have a statement of faith or something similar that outlines this – you can find out about us here