It may be the email I get more than any other: Can you help me find a church? Sometimes I receive it when a person has come to new theological convictions and realizes that his current church is completely unsuitable, but far more often he has just moved across the country or across the world, has settled into his new home, and has now started the search for a new church.
Before I answer the question, can I encourage you to consider the importance of finding a new church before you move? If public worship and church community are as central to your life and faith as the New Testament suggests, then it can be perilous to move anywhere without first determining that there are suitable churches in that location. So many people will go and scout the neighborhoods, check out the schools, and leave a deposit on the new house, but forget all about the church until they have actually made the move and settled in. I recommend the opposite approach: Find the church first, and then start thinking about the other factors.
Now, how can you find a church in a new area? The easiest way I know is to begin with a trusted source that can make a recommendation. If you are affiliated with a denomination, it will be as simple as visiting the denomination’s web site. But for those who wish to search wider, I recommend beginning with a handful of church directories, each of which lists like-minded churches. These are the best three I know of:
The Gospel Coalition maintains a church directory that is open to any church that affirms their Foundation Documents. This at least narrows the search and can provide a few churches to visit and consider.
The Master’s Seminary maintains a Find a Church page which lists churches founded or pastored by their alumni.
9Marks Church Search offers a similar directory for churches that wish to be affiliated with them.
Between the three directories, you now have a good place to begin your search. In every case, a search of my area turns up very good results. One thing to keep in mind: The organizations that provide these directories simply list the churches, but do not vouch for them, so you will need to visit and assess.
Let me close with a suggestion for local churches: I think one of the most helpful features you can add to your church’s web page is an affiliations or recommendations page where you list and recommend like-minded ministries. This helps people who visit your site make connections with the wider Christian world. They may not know the name of your pastor or the theological positions of your church, but through these affiliations they can at least get a glimpse of who you are. Here is what we do at Grace Fellowship Church:
- The Gospel Coalition is a group of pastors and churches that exist to promote gospel-centered ministry and biblically-faithful resources for the church. Grace Fellowship Church shares the doctrinal convictions and theological vision for ministry as outlined in their Foundation Documents.
- Desiring God Ministries has influenced Grace Fellowship Church primarily through the writing and preaching of Pastor John Piper. Though we are not in formal affiliation with Desiring God, we share John Piper’s convictions about the Bible’s teaching on God’s sovereignty, salvation, mission, suffering, and the way one should live the Christian life.
- 9Marks Ministries, founded by Pastor Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, has been formative in our understanding of how a church is to be governed.
Those who visit our site as part of their search for a new church invariably find this page just as helpful as our sermons and our statement of faith.
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