A Non-Churchgoer’s Guide For Finding A Church For Your Family

20 months.

Maybe you recently read “8 Non-Religious Reasons To Take Your Kids To Church” and now you’re thinking, “Okay, I see how that could be a good thing for my family but there are so many churches out there, I just feel overwhelmed. I simply wouldn’t know where to start.”

For someone who is new or unfamiliar to the church scene, I recommend the kind of church that meets at a school, where everybody pretty much wears jeans to the service.

This concept seems to be decently modeled after Saddleback Church in California, where Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church is the pastor.

Often the names of these “purpose driven” churches include phrases like family, life, community, and fellowship as opposed to official denominational ties, such as Baptist, for example.

They are easy to Google and definitely have a constantly updated website letting you know what exciting activities are going on there.

These churches are typically designed with you, the newcomer, in mind. They have a much more casual setting with a more open, feng shui feel. No pews, for example.

Churches like this are a natural magnet for younger families with children. And that’s hugely important for you as you consider joining a church community.

There may be a band leading the worship music in some likeness of Coldplay (or Lady Antebellum) while coffee and snacks (often free) are served nearby.

I predict at a place like this, you won’t feel like you’re being held over hell like a marshmallow, but instead will feel welcome and part of the crowd.

You can also expect the pastor to be less preachy and more teachy. You’ll feel like he’s talking to you, not at you.

That’s not to say that churches that don’t follow the “purpose driven” model are predictably stiff, outdated, and judgmental, but I do think that a church that fits the model I have described is going to have a better chance of not making you feel out of place, as a newcomer.

What matters is that you find the church that is the best cultural fit for your family so you will want to go back, not feel like you’re supposed to or have to.

I don’t think church is supposed to be boring. I think it’s supposed to be full of abundant life. That’s the kind of church I hope you find for your family.

Photo: Paper Coffee Cup via Shutterstock.


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  1. [...] A non-churchgoer’s guide to finding a church for your family (Parents.com) [...]

  2. by Julie Weiss

    On August 11, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Please visit http://www.mormon.org Not only will it de-mystify the religion (which I belong to and love), but it will answer life’s most probing questions–”Where did I come from? Why are I here? Where will I go after I die?” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the official name of the Mormon church) is a place where you will feel like your questions are answered, where you will feel the Spirit and be welcomed. Visitors are welcome to any of our chapels. There is a place on the website to search for your nearest chapel.

  3. by Junia

    On August 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    While you’re at it try looking at this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhY-uAe8NCc

  4. by Carolyn

    On August 16, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Hi Junia, I think Julie is just trying to provide an option. There is no need to spout anti-Mormon messages. People can make up their own minds without it, and granted, it probably won’t fit the ideals of many. I think time would be more wisely spent providing positive ideas and suggestions than tearing others down.

  5. by Sandy

    On August 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I think what people want is to be up lifted.
    I think non-church going people forget that going to the right service can re-fuel your soul and thus allow you to make it thru another week in this often frustrating, negative, evil world we live in today. Kids need something to fall back on during dark times. We all have a soul, it needs to be fueled just like anything else. Find your nitch- you won’t regret it.

  6. by Kirsten

    On August 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    On behalf of all main-stream denominations please let me apologize that this is the image we have allowed to be portrayed of us. Sometimes our music has not stayed current, and sometimes there are pews without cushions. I know some pastors are better with their sermons than others too (though I would venture that that is true no matter what kind of church you are in).
    If I can make a request that before anyone just jumps into a non-denominational church because it has the word “family” in it, please do a little research. What is the theology of the congregation? Do they believe every word of scripture should be taken literally at face value? And what about the parts that contradict each other? Does everyone get to go to Heaven or only other Christians? Are other Christians considered Christians? What about Catholics (some of these churches don’t believe Catholics to be Christian) Where does that leave Uncle Fred and how are you going to explain that to your children? How are women viewed in the church? Do they have equal voting rights? Can they be pastors? Does the congregation serve the community? What kinds of social justice issues do they uphold? How do they view homosexuality? What kind of education does the pastor have? Did he (because in my experience these churches are mostly patriarchal -not a judgement, just something to consider) go to seminary? If so what kind? How long was he in seminary/Bible school for? Just because they don’t have a denominational name in their name do they have one in their history? -If so how does it affect them now?
    This is not just a social club, this is a place to encounter the Divine. If the kind of church Mr. Shell describes helps you to grow in your heart and mind and explore your faith that is fantastic! However, please give it at least half the thought and research you would give to figuring out what pre-school your child goes to. The impact a church home has on a child can last a lifetime.

    I will offer that at the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) that I am a part of encourages everyone to ride their bike to worship at least once a month, so shorts and jeans are just fine. We ALWAYS have good fair trade coffee. Children are a part of the service and smiled at even when they can’t sit still. We do have guitars and drums with music that uses good theology and a good beat. Oh, and we spout a whole lot of stuff about being saved by Grace not anything we do. -And I know a lot of great Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, UCC, Reformed, Moravian, and yes, even Roman Catholic Churches that do too.
    P.S. Not all of us Christians consider “The Purpose Driven Life” good theology or want to raise our children with that to be the way they understand God. -sorry, I couldn’t help myself

  7. by How to choose a Church (A Challenge)

    On August 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

    [...] week I was led to this article A Non-Churchgoer’s Guide For Finding A Church For Your Family. I was quite interested in what the author would have to say about how to choose a church.   This [...]

  8. by Tim

    On August 28, 2012 at 9:44 am

    It’s truly sad that this article only recommended churches based on convenience and comfort, and nothing was mentioned about encountering the living God through scripture and worship. Speaking as a Lutheran, whose Theology of the cross, functions on grace, if you’re not going to church to hear that Christ died for you; why bother going at all? The Church was built to be a place of worship, not a social club (and I’m one of those “liberal,” “gay-loving,” sacramental, liturgical, “social gospel” Lutherans saying this). Usually, I’m the one being criticized for not believing anything…when did we decide that religion was irrelevant and all that mattered was having the flashiest programs, the hottest band, and an in-church Starbucks? It’s just sad, really. But, I digress because my disappointment in this article is not what matters either. God is found at the cross and the grace of God is sufficient for us all.