By God’s grace, year after year, our church has seen the miracle of salvation happen in the hearts of hundreds of college students.
And year after year we see newly believing students graduate college and head to a new city for a new job looking for a church to attend.
For a lot of our students, Resonate is the only church they’ve known. They don’t have a “home church." They don’t have a relative in the ministry. They don’t even know where to start when looking for a new church.
Lord willing, in the next 5 years Resonate will plant a church in all the major metropolitan areas around the Northwest so we can be their “home church," but in the meantime, here are some things to consider when looking for a new church.
Step 1: Figure out what the church and its leaders believe about the Bible.
This may seem like an easy one, but sadly it’s not. Under the banner of social acceptance a lot of churches have left the Bible behind in search of relevance or progression or open-mindedness or whatever. Be wary of “open minds," that usually means you won’t see open Bibles.
Cool worship, cool buildings, trendy coffee, trendy pants: none of it matters if the church has a low view of Scripture. To say it plainly: do not entertain the concept of joining a church that doesn’t love to preach and teach the Gospel as explained in the Bible. Too much is at stake. Jesus has to be central and the Word has to be authoritative or you have to leave.
Steve Timmis, author of Total Church writes, “When picking a new church make sure the Gospel is preached, prayed, sung, celebrated, taught, applied, lived and loved, week in, week out, day in day out, 24/7.”
*tip: Google their sermons beforehand, read up on their website before attending. Send an email asking to meet with someone because you’re new to town.
Step 2: Attend the church and its small groups multiple times to see what they value.
If you only go once it’s likely you won’t get a real picture of what the church is like. You have to be mindful that church is so much more than the worship service. It’s a covenant community created by the Gospel for the Gospel. Church is a family on mission.
As you attend multiple things multiple times, ask yourself:
- Do you want to join this family?
- Are they on mission?
- Are you willing to follow these leaders?
*tip: Fight hard to not compare this new church to your old church. It’s different and that’s ok. The people, the vibe, the space, the music, the preaching, the graphics, it’s all different, and it’s all good. Keep the main thing the main thing- see step 1. Don’t let comparison steal the joy of what God is doing with you being in a new place.
Step 3: Make sure you can be discipled and be a disciple maker.
Don’t settle just being a church attender. Don’t just go to small group. Don’t just serve. Get in the game of being discipled and making disciples. Jesus has commanded this of his people, and you don’t get a pass because you moved to a new place.
Disciple making must be a lifelong priority for you, therefore you have to join a church that has a pathway for you be be discipled and make disciples.
*tip: Ask your small group leader how they got to where they are. Ask to meet with a staff member so they can show you the pathway to disciple making. Investigate how discipleship works in the church, and make sure it’s more than lip-service, but there’s actual ways to get involved on this front.
Step 4: Join the church, give to the church, lead in the church, celebrate the church, and continue to grow as a disciple on mission.
If all that goes well, join the church. Join with all your heart. Take on a leadership role. Serve. Give. Make it a priority in your life to attend small group and Sundays regularly.
Take the good and the bad and give yourself to this new church. Bless your leaders, and be a great follower. Bring energy to the church, bring joy and optimism about what God is doing. Lead out in mission and prayer and delight the new church with your presence.
*tip: This means don’t attend other churches. The shopping is over. Commit and enjoy where God has you.
Lastly: Sadly we’ve seen so many students leave Resonate and ultimately leave the Lord. Maybe it’s because they never found a new church, maybe it’s because they loved Resonate and not Jesus, maybe it’s for something else completely. Either way, fight the temptation to be lax with Christ when you move.
Google churches and make a plan to attend your first Sunday in your new city. Do it right away. Text a friend you know is plugged in somewhere and make a plan to go together. Don’t settle until you are connected and being discipled and on the path to making disciples.
Your life is too valuable and your calling too high to simply take time off when you leave Resonate. That’s disobedient to God, and damaging to your soul.