[Photo by DerrickT]

I think church shopping is awesome.  Why not put the same kind of intentionality into searching for your spiritual home as you do in looking for someone to care for your children or your own health care?  Of course you will not be paying for services rendered, but you certainly want to make sure that you find a good fit.

I am sure there are lots of lists out there, but here are a few things I would suggest.

Five Helpful TIPS to keep in mind

  1. Visit at least three times in a row or at least pretty close together.   While every church should strive for consistency, one Sunday may or may not be reflective of the community as a whole.
  2. Visit the website and read blogs, click through multiple layers so you get a sense of the culture of the community.  If the pastor or others in the church blog, read them.
  3. Find out what others are saying using review sites like Yelp and others. Ask friends or ask people who are there, “Why do you come to _______?”
  4. Check your unhealthy cynicism – healthy cynicism is called snark and is fun – and assumptions at the door.  If you are sure you won’t like it, odds are you won’t.   Open yourself up to the possibilities God may have in store for you . . . even in a place that on the outside might not seem like a good fit.
  5. When you visit, go ahead and engage folks . . . ask questions, take them up on offers for conversation.

Five FILTERS to install

  1. No church is perfect, so discern what are your non-negotiables in terms of style, size, feel, etc.  Don’t be totally tied to them, but at least recognize what you think you may want.
  2. Churches are a gathering of misfits so do not judge the church based on a single interaction with a single person, you are probably one as well.
  3. Churches cannot be all things for all people, so don’t please don’t expect them to be.
  4. Summer is a bad time to visit churches.
  5. Sometimes you will just know when it is a good fit.  Trust your gut and the vibe you pick up.

NUMBER ONE FOR ME IF I WERE TO CHOOSE A CHURCH

A church should care more about your spiritual health rather than your attendance at their church.

And if you happen to be looking for a church in San Francisco, here are my suggestions.

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