Finding a church to call home in the Atlanta area can be quite a challenge, mainly because nearly every denomination of every size congregation exists. From Orthodox Judaism to contemporary Christian, the metro is full of houses of worship to suit every saint! To narrow down a search for the “perfect church” the best place to begin is online. Most congregations have gone digital with interactive web sites, streaming audio and video web casts and home pages that give prospective members virtual tours of the physical structure, statement of beliefs, pastor’s biography, ministries and auxiliaries. Instead of sitting through two-hour sermons, visitors can simply surf the Web, click on points of interest and get an overview of specific ministries. The Internet also enables prospective members to download maps and directions to local assemblies for a follow-up visit.
After searching the Internet, visitors may want to get up close and personal with a ministry of choice. Visit on a Sunday and size up the overall feel, message and mission of the local assembly. Bearing in mind that there are no perfect churches, prospective parishioners would do well to come in with an open mind and open heart. One way to tell if a ministry is a good fit is how visitors are handled. Are visitors greeted with a smile at the door? Is there a hospitality or outreach committee assigned to give new attendees a follow-up phone call, home visit, card, or an invitation to participate in future events? If no one from the local church contacts first- or second-time visitors, leadership may be failing in the area of hospitality or disinterested in church growth.
During a first or second visit, potential members can assess whether ministries are Christ-centered or sanctified social clubs. It is easy for churches to lose sight of their purpose through programs geared more toward carnality than Christianity. But, the right ministry will not only offer opportunities for worship, but focus on helping families, singles, and couples discover individual and intimate relationships with Jesus Christ. Families with small children will want to find a church that offers a nursery and children’s program that offers creative ways to introduce tots to the gospel. Youth ministries should offer programs that stimulate an interest in discovering Christianity and provide a practical application of Biblical principles to help youngsters maneuver through the awkwardness of adolescence. Family-oriented churches will offer opportunities for mom and dad to become actively involved in women’s and men’s ministries to develop individually or in group settings.
Before making a final decision on which church to call home, potential parishioners should arrange to meet with a minister. An outreach or evangelism leader can address any personal concerns about the ministry and assess the needs of new congregants. Large and small churches usually offer newcomer programs and orientation sessions to integrate new members into the larger body of worshippers. Above all choosing a church home should be a Spirit-led venture. Potential members that seek to please God, especially in selecting a permanent house of worship, will not only enjoy years of loving fellowship but also a place to develop into mature Christians.