Community

How to Find a Church by Yourself

There are some things in life that once you find them, you hold on to them and don’t let go: a great hairdresser, an honest mechanic, or a doctor who really listens to you.

Another staple of many peoples’ lives is a good church. But if you are single and unsure of how to find one, how do you even know where to begin? I want to give you some practical tips on how to find a church that suits you and will support you on your spiritual walk.

One thing to consider is what denomination of services you would like to attend. Some people prefer to go to the church of the religion they were raised in, which is fine. However, if that doesn’t meet your spiritual needs, consider taking this quiz to see where your leanings are. This BeliefNet quiz is for entertainment purposes, but it can give you insight if you prefer a more liberal, conservative, or middle-of-the-road church. For example, I scored highest as a Liberal Quaker, ranking far above the Catholic faith I was raised in.

However, being a Quaker isn’t terribly practical in my city of 300,000 people. They meet in a private residence once a week, and I’m not comfortable sticking out like a sore thumb for their meetings.

Another way to find a church is to ask your like-minded friends, relatives, or co-workers if they can recommend any churches. Ask them why they would recommend it, and if they think you would enjoy it. I think you will find their answers to be very telling. Ask if you can go to a service with them – there’s nothing like going to church with someone who can make introductions!

When I visit a new church, I have a list of what is most important to me:

  • Was I welcomed? I like a warm greeting. I don’t want to be a nameless face in the pew.
  • Music – Personally, I like more contemporary music.
  • Sermon – What was the central message of the sermon? Was it hellfire and brimstone, or did it teach an inspirational, gentle, and hopeful lesson?
  • Congregation– Is there diversity in the congregation? Is it all families or all older folks? Do you see unattached adults? If there is a good age spread, I take that as a good sign that the church reaches out to everyone.
  • Ministries – Many of these are highlighted in the church bulletin, which I highly recommend reading. Does the church offer anything of interest to you, like singles’ ministry, bible study, classes, or volunteer opportunities? Opportunities to get you involved will make you feel quickly at home.
  • Service time – I’m squirming after 45 minutes. If it goes past an hour, they’ve lost me.
  • Miscellaneous – Is there anything else that stands out about the church? Things I’ve noticed are coffee before or after services for fellowship, wonky parking lots, use of multimedia in the church, and the general overall church vibe. 

Of course selecting the right church for you is an intensely personal process, and you will unfortunately go to a few churches that just don’t resonate with you. But if you are brave enough to explore churches, keep in mind what is important to you in a church family, and visit the “maybe” churches more than once, I think you are well on your way to finding a worship community that’s just right for you.

If you attend church, how did you find the place you currently attend? Comment below!

Why You Should Care About Politics

“God damn it! We just got through the ugliest election in this country’s history! I never, ever want to hear about politics again!”

As of this writing (late October), the elections are, sadly, not over with yet. Nearly everyone I know is weary of this election, and I know more than one person who swears they will never vote again.

Never. Vote. Again.

Um, no. Not voting is not an option.

I used to work in an election office, so I’ve heard a lot of arguments why people don’t care about politics. If you hate politics or ignore them altogether, read below. I want you tell you why your lack of interest in what’s going on around you could hurt you in the end.

Excuse #1: My vote doesn’t matter.

I’m so tired of hearing this. First of all, if you knew the history of how different groups in our country had to struggle to get the vote, you might think a little differently. American women only got the vote in 1920, and that was after a lot of hard work. My grandmothers were born without any voting rights, and they only could when they turned 21, not 18.

And if you think your vote doesn’t matter, you are so wrong. More than a few local elections are decided by a single vote. In national elections, sometimes the presidential vote is decided by only a few hundred people. 2000, anybody? So your vote does matter. And if you sit at home on Election Day, you officially surrender your right to ever complain about politics ever again. And you’re dismissing the sacrifices of your great-grandmothers and all the other women in your family who worked to ensure you get the vote.

Excuse #2: There’s nothing on the ballot that affects me.

Not true, either. Many ballots have tax initiatives on them for levies, school bonds, sales taxes, etc., that hit you in the wallet. You could wind up paying more or less taxes. Your vote can affect how children in your city are educated, or which building projects get funded. In my state this year, we are voting on whether or not to abolish the death penalty. My vote is literally a vote of life and death.

I always supported Obamacare, but I never thought I would be on the receiving end of it. Welp, I am on it right now and I make sure my vote ensures politicians who support it stay in Washington. I want my voice heard, because what is on the ballot indeed affects my daily life.

Excuse #3: All politicians suck. Why should I even bother?

I actually don’t disagree with this argument. A lot of politicians do kind of suck because they are in perpetual campaign mode. They lose their empathy and connection with the very constituents who voted them into office.

That is why I think term limits are a good thing. And in the meantime, I am voting straight across the board to bring in new blood. I am weary of the establishment, so it’s time to shake it up. And even if the same old clowns get elected, at least I can hold my head high knowing I did my best to make a change.

Excuse #4: I don’t have time.

LAME. It take seconds to fill out an absentee request form. Vote at home in your jammies, then mail the puppy back in.

You don’t have to vote for every issue on the ballot, but you are doing yourself a huge favor to stay informed. Read editorials in your local paper. Visit the websites of the major parties in your state. Watch a debate or two. Ask questions of a friend or coworker who is well informed. Again, you don’t have to know everything, but educate yourself!

I hope I’ve refuted at least one argument on why you don’t care about politics. You aren’t only helping yourself, but you’re making a meaningful contribution to your community. It takes little time to educate yourself, and you are honoring the work of everyone who fights to ensure you have access to a ballot at every election.

YES OR NO: Did you vote last month? Why?