As all Christians believe in the back of their minds, if you aren’t going to church, you aren't really saved. Whether this is true or not, why put up with such inconvenient controversial distinctions?
Stop worshiping at the Church of the Holy Mattress and leave that false god, Sealy, behind! It’s time to find yourself a true gathering of Christian brothers and sisters!
But where to start?
Well, the first question you must ask yourself is: which denomination do you prefer? You may have been born a certain denomination but are trapped in another denomination’s body – this is 2019, after all! Get woke! We’re already assuming you are a Christian, but what kind? I mean, there are several different kinds, just like soda. Are you a Coke Christian? A Pepsi? Or, God-forbid, an RC Cola Christian?
You’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got quite a list to choose from. If you already have a denomination in your life, then search for churches in that denomination to start (you can always jump ship later - THERE ARE NO RULES!). I mean, there is a large difference between Catholic calisthenics and numb-butt Baptists (frankly, if I visit a church and see those pull down kneeling cushions, I’m outta there quicker than Joel Osteen at the dentist office - #perfectdentalhygiene).
If you have no idea what denomination you would like, you might want to start with a non-denominational one. Just make sure it’s not some kind of wacky “We’re the only church going to Heaven” cult first. If TV has taught me anything, you can spot these cults because they wear all beige and drink Kool-Aid.
You also don’t want a “Give us all your money and God will give you more money so you can give us that money too and we can buy the most expensive private jet in the world” scamy kind of non-denom. These are the churches where the pastor rolls up in a Bentley, steps out in a four-thousand-dollar suit, and preaches from a golden/crystal alter where the only person there for you to worship is him.
Anyhoo, once you know what denom you are in search of, the hunt begins.
But where to look?!
Chances are, you won’t find a church next door (Oh, if only one could be so lucky…). So, you might have to actually leave your block. Look at the skyline all around you. Do you see any tall pointy buildings with crosses? Those are probably churches. You might want to hit those up, because “closer” might not always be “better,” but it is a lot harder to use the “I don’t want to drive all the way across town today” excuse if the church is only a couple blocks away.
Many churches are sneaky and don't meet in normal church-like buildings, but in gyms, homes, or other make-shift buildings. Some churches are SO sneaky that they DO meet in churches, but those churches don't belong to those churches, because those churches belong to other churches that are loaning out space to those churches so those churches can have church until those churches can find a church of their own. So, on Sunday mornings, keep an eye out for large groups of well-dressed, alert people, carrying Bibles and all hyped up on coffee (the Christian drug of choice), congregating in one spot.
You can also search online or grab a phone boo- I mean, what’s a phone book? I’m young and hip and have Alexa do all my voicemailing. Anyway, call up every church secretary and ask them to explain the complex infrastructure of the basic beliefs of the church as a whole. They love stopping their busy day of copying and folding to answer involved and annoying lines of questions from complete strangers. Trust me. Also, ask if any local celebrities attend there. I mean, if you are going to visit, it would be cool to meet the guy from Car Chat on KQXY.
Ask some of your Christian friends. Assuming you have any. You might need a church for that. It’s the system: You need Christian friends to find a church, you need a church to get Christian friends. THE SYSTEM WON’T LET US IN!
During your search, don’t just pick one church and stick with it without trying out some other options (well, you know, unless you feel God telling you to stick with your first choice… He’s smarter than me). Churches are run many different ways: there are “Sunday best” churches, “blue jeans” churches, and "you can't get in without a tattoo" churches; “Pass the plate” churches, “give at the door” churches, and "make this easier and just give us your wallet" churches; “traditional hymn” churches, “contemporary praise” churches, and "from the window to the wall" churches; plus mixtures of any and all of those, so give them all a shot.
There are also many different types of Pastors, such as the “Hellfire and Brimstone” Pastor shouting from the pulpit. There’s the “Stonehenge” Pastor who doesn’t move from the pulpit, doesn’t change the volume of his voice, and is probably as old as the Henge of Stone itself. There’s the “Wacky Pack” Pastor, always making (terrible) jokes and flailing his arms about. There’s the “Absentee” Pastor who seems to be missing each week, so there is a guest Pastor each time you visit. There's the "Woke" Pastor, probably in his 30's (or in his 50's but trying to LOOK like he's in his 30's), always trying to condense his messages into Tweetable bites, making slightly heretical comments, gaining a following of millions to give him a false appearance of righteousness. There are others, but these are the ones you are likely to run into.
When you visit a church, determine how welcome you felt. Were you told that you were sitting in someone else’s pew before service began and were forced to move? Did someone come greet you and shake your hand? Did the color of the carpet feel off-putting? Did someone actually make eye contact and exchange names and pleasantries? Did they offer nice pens to write with or those annoying golf pencils (for me, golf pencils are a HARD PASS)? Were you able to have coffee afterward or beforehand? Were visitors forced to sit in a special section of the church, like lepers? All of these might have a direct impact on whether or not this church is for you.
Remember, no church is perfect, so once you feel comfy enough, I’d say start trying that church out on a temporary basis until the Spirit gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down. Be sure to pay attention to your own feelings. If someone offends you, obviously that church isn't for you. Keep hopping around until you find some place no one will ever make your uncomfortable. Comfort is key here. You think the disciples were uncomfortable? I have it on good authority that Jesus made wine out of water and had a never ending supply of bread and fish. Those guys were living the dream.
Not being fed? Maybe it's time to leave the church. If the Pastor can't cater to your specific needs (wants) and be solely responsible for your spiritual growth, then what are you ever doing here?! What does he expect you to do - read the Bible for yourself? WHO HAS THE TIME?! DISNEY+ JUST LAUNCHED!
Once you have a church, make sure to attend just enough to get something out of it yourself, but not often enough to be asked to volunteer for anything. Working for free is a sucker's game. Your time is more valuable then anyone else's. (It's okay to make an exception if food is provided.)
Follow these tips and things can't not go wrong! Happy hunting!