How to Find the Right Church.
"Bless her heart, maybe if she was more senior in her faith." Says the old judgmental southern lady that has been at the same church for 30 years, as she sabotages a new church member.
"If you are not giving 10% to this church, I have to question your faith." Says the thirsty pastor as he bullies the congregation for money.
"Homosexuals, Muslims, and fake Christians are going to burn in hell for eternity!" So this one is a bit extreme, but you get the point.
Finding the right church is a combination of research, trial and error, and networking. In many ways it has never been easier to check out a church. Social media, videos, and websites are all great tools. Add in the ability to read internet comments and you can get a feel for a place without ever showing up. With that, the first step is a soft look.
The Soft Look.
Check out what is available from the comfort of, I guess anywhere, with your phone or computer. Start with places that your friends and coworkers attend. Hopefully those good people will lead you to a good place and make things easy. Any personal connections at this stage are a huge win.
Check out the community demographics for something that works for your situation. This mostly goes for the age of the population and number of young families. If you are a family with kids, it is likely that your closest relationships will be in a similar situation. If you are single, or a man, or a woman, or whatever, look for that group, or at least the availability of people you can connect with. It is OK to prioritize your future relationships at this point. You can't have strong community connections without a community.
The same principle goes for the "flavor" of Christianity. Check out the church and their outward facing brand. This is the first chance to avoid the hardliners that will cast you to hell, or never really let you into their club because you are new. Avoid that mess, or join it if you like. Just know that you can get a good feel for the approach to God from afar. Pay attention to how the clergy speaks to the congregation. How do they ask for your cash (offering)? Do you finish watching a service feeling guilty, or do you leave with some additional inspiration? With nothing invested it should be easy to walk away from the duds.
Time to Show Up.
So you start with a wide net of places at an acceptable travel distance. Narrow down the list with some internet reconnaissance, and now you have a few places to check out. Or…. you go the old fashioned way and just show up because you saw a sign. Either way. It's recommended that you show up twice before abandoning ship. Better said, give a church a mulligan for annoyances that might have been one time events.
It's a kind of traveling roadshow for your Sunday mornings until you find a home. The right church will be easy. It will likely just happen, with minimal effort on your part. The hardest part is getting yourself in the door. A common tactic for couples and families is to send one person around to scout out the non-negotiables. Family specific, that scouting involves the manner of child care and security. Good churches have deliberate child care with vetting of caregivers and oversight similar to state run facilities. You have to be comfortable with the accommodations to really be there. Also pay attention to activities beyond the Sunday services. Do they have small groups? Are there like minded people for you to socialize with? What is the pathway to becoming a member? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether this is the right place for you.
The last note is to stay true to yourself. You should not have to make great concessions to go to church. It should be easy peasy. Search out a place with like minded individuals that love God and want to better themselves. Good things will come from there. Also, disregard all the rivalries and bullshit between Christian churches. Go where you feel comfortable and will likely return. If it becomes a thing and you need to change it up later, you will still be better off than if you never opened the door. Good luck to all of you. Check out the article on what to expect when you show up as light preparation for your arrival.