Three “Quick” Ways to Assess a Church
Okay, that’s a little misleading. It’s difficult to assess a church quickly, and that’s not usually a good approach. But since thousands of people do it every week when they visit a church, it might be good to toss a few helpful thoughts into the mix.
So let me suggest that you slow it down just a little and try these three things before you make a decision about choosing a church.
1. Attend the worship services three weeks in a row.
I get so disappointed when a guest leaves 12Stone® Church before the service is over. Usually we’ve done something a bit too edgy or the music is too loud or we’ve had too much fun. I’m confident that if they would wait long enough to hear the truth of God’s Word in the message they would love our church. Well, at least like it! It’s not many people who leave our church like that, but it’s the same idea for any church. If you don’t stick around long enough to see what the church is really like, you can’t make a good decision. I think it takes a good three weeks in a row to know what you need to know. There is so much to absorb from the worship vibe to the teaching style, and from the vision of the church to what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Note: If you attend a church for three weeks and never learn anything about their vision, that’s a huge caution flag.
2. Have coffee with one of the church leaders.
Meeting the pastor is a great idea, but that’s not typically possible or practical in large and very large churches. But that’s okay, you can meet with a staff member or one of the volunteer leaders of the church. Ask them for 20 minutes and offer to buy them a cup of coffee. This can often be done on a Sunday morning with some “church” coffee that’s free! Ask them about the history of the church, the heartbeat of the vision and what they love about the church. Don’t interview them like you are trying to find out some dirt, no church is perfect. If you look for something broken you’ll find it. Focus more on getting to know this leader and learn what you can about the strengths of the church. After all, that’s what you will connect with and help build, the strengths, not the weaknesses. If it’s a smaller church and you do meet with the pastor, keep it to 20 minutes and ask how you can help serve!
3. Ask your kids if they liked their experience.
Even if you don’t have kids, check out the kid’s ministry anyway. If you do have kids, you can learn much by whether or not your kids want to go back. The children’s ministry reveals much. Even with a young start-up church that has little resources, you can easily see if they have a passion for the children. It’s not about how much money a church has. You can tell if the church cares about kids by how the volunteers treat the kids and parents. You will quickly see if the children’s ministry is organized. It will be obvious if it’s creative and fun or boring. That will tell you how they feel about families and the next generation. That will give you insight about how visionary the church is. This is a good way for you to discover the values of the church. When you discover what is important, you will quickly understand the DNA and culture of the church.