I moved to Rancho Cucamonga on a Saturday in November of 2016 and attended Abundant Living Family Church the following Sunday. Knowing it was a “mega church” I didn’t think I would make it my home. I had attended local churches with smaller congregations my entire life. They were my comfort zone. I knew what to expect, what to wear, how to behave. A year later, I hadn’t missed many services, but I also hadn’t become an official member. A few months after I completed the “Next Steps” growth track and was added to the roster, I accepted my current position and transitioned to Orange County, CA. For a year I’ve traveled back to Rancho Cucamonga and recently began visiting local churches to avoid the commute. Although I still have not joined a new church, as I visit these are four things I’ve sought, that anyone should look for when examining their current place of worship or seeking a new church home.
There are many brick and mortar churches to choose from in communities around the globe, several of which offer streaming capabilities that allow you to access messages on demand. When you’re choosing a church to call home, make sure you’re offered more than access to a building and message 2-3 days a week. Your personal and spiritual growth is important to fulfilling the purpose that God has on your life and using your gifts and talents to advance his kingdom and fulfill his will.
Outside of benefits for you, the church you attend should also contribute to growth in your community and beyond. This looks different across congregations. Some offer resources onsite such as food pantries or outreach centers. Others participate in mission trips internationally; some do both.
Finally you should also see growth within the church. From messages to membership to families and more, growth should be evident. If it’s not it may be time to shake things up a bit. This is an opportunity to implement change or maybe even seek a new church home.
Praise and worship is my favorite section of service. It’s a time when congregations unite in adoration and honor of the King of Kings. A time of intimacy with our father and unity with the body of Christ. Although you can listen to a message and offer praise and worship any time, Matthew 18:20 tells us that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When you’re in the presence of the father and His spirit, there’s no other feeling like it. If your worship experience isn’t rejuvenating, there is a need and opportunity for a shift whether it’s in your understanding of the opportunity before you, distractions hindering you from giving God your attention or something else.
Opportunities to serve
Serving is an assignment found in The Word several times.
“Be sure to fear the lord and serve him faithfully, with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. “
1 Samuel 12:24
Your home church should provide opportunities to serve in the church whether greeting, parking, assisting in a ministry or other roles and as a church.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10
Serving is a rewarding opportunity that everyone can do and should be done with others whether feeding poor, praying for sick or providing for those in need. At ALFC members took to the streets of the community to provide free reusable grocery bags (Californians now have to pay for bags or bring their own.), assist shoppers with loading groceries and other purchases and inviting them to our Easter Services.
“Serve one another humbly in love.”
Ministry happens beyond the walls of the church. Serving is an opportunity to reach hurting and lost souls and lead them to the grace and love of Jesus.
“For even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life as ransom for many.”
When you accept Jesus into your heart and life and choose a church home you’re not only joining a congregation, but the body of Christ.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12: 26-27
Accepting Christ doesn’t make Christians exempt from suffering and pain, but it does give us assurance that we’re never alone for Christ is always with us, but in addition to Christ we should have eternal support from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27: 17
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
Churches are not hard to find; there’s often one in every neighborhood. I made a promise to God that once I started my career I would be faithful with attendance and tithing. Since I moved to California in 2016 I’ve kept my promise, but more importantly I found a church home at ALFC that has allowed me to grow in more ways than I thought possible. The pastors have challenged me to be more than a “seat-filler” and to use my gifts to serve God and His kingdom.
What do you look for in a church home? If you already have one what do you love about your church? Share below. Be sure to include the name of your church and where it’s based. Someone may read the post and be in your area seeking a new home.
Hugs & Handshakes
Jasmine C. Tate