Questions to ask when finding a church

As the dust settles on Freshers Week you're perhaps thinking about finding a church. Whether you’re a Fresher or a Covid-delayed second year, this can be a little daunting, but it can also be hugely life-giving. Being a part of a church as a student is not just about allowing your faith to survive whilst at Uni, but seeing it thrive in a whole new way. Wherever you may be studying there will be lots of great churches which love students and that you can call home. But how do we know if a church is the right one for us to settle in? Here are a few thoughts that may be helpful. 

 

How is the church Jesus-centred?

Although there are lots of good reasons to be in Church, Jesus is the best reason. In fact, without Him there is not much reason at all! He is ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’, He is our Saviour and King, and He doesn’t just have authority over our lives but He gives us life itself. So before anything else, when finding a church, ask yourself is Jesus at the centre of it? Through the church’s vision and values, prayer and worship, and teaching of Scripture, are you part of a church which looks to put Jesus above everything else? 

 

Where can you serve in the church?

Church isn’t a one-way system simply about what we ourselves can get out of it, but a place in which we bring our gifts, time and passions. Paul describes the church as a body in 1 Corinthians 12, saying every member has a different but really important part to play. Even when some roles may not feel as ‘glamourous’ or ‘valuable’ as others, God says each of us has a unique contribution to make. So when trying churches, figure out what opportunities there are for you to get involved beyond just turning up on Sundays. Is there a team or ministry area you can serve in? Is there a Small Group for you to join? In what ways can you give to the church?

 

What kind of community is there?

God intends for us to do and live life together as the body of Christ. Church shouldn’t be a series of meetings which validates our faith but a life-transforming community. It’s a place where we can encourage and challenge one another even when we may have fallen out of the habit of doing so. Jesus tells his disciples in John 13:34-35 that people would know them as His disciples through the love they showed one another: a radical kind of love that looked beyond cliques, interest and inconvenience. So is the church community one which tries to be welcoming and caring to all, and where you think you can be vulnerable and accountable? Is it a community where you can disciple others and be discipled yourself? Is it a community where you can build relationships with people of different races, generations and cultural backgrounds?

 

How outward looking is the church?

The Church wasn’t designed to be a bubble exclusively for those who already know Jesus. Rather, He calls on all of us to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’. Are you looking to be a part of a church where you can join in with this mission and step outside your comfort zone? Is there a church you can join which looks to reach students and the local community? Think about how the churches you check out accommodate those exploring faith, and if they’re somewhere you would like to invite your friends to try church.

 

Being a student is a great time to grow as a disciple of Jesus, and being a part of a church is foundational to this. Don’t stress about finding the perfect church, because no such one exists! But do ask yourself, are you going to be a participant and not just a passenger? And are you going to contribute and not just consume? Because ultimately the Church needs you just as much as you need it. 

Looking for a church to join? You can linkup now by downloading the Student Linkup app.

Photo by Joel Mott on Unsplash.

Ed Earnshaw

Student Mission Developer

Ed’s faith came alive at uni and he gets excited when he sees students step out and grow in their faith. He now works with churches to help them welcome and disciple students.

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