Note: This article was just published in the March issue of Forward Magazine 2017. Helping a teen transition post-high school is an important responsibility for parents. Helping them choose a new church home in their college or career city is critical.
A friend of mine is a musician in Nashville. He moved to Nashville years ago to make it in the music industry as a session player. He has been there more than twelve years and has had a few opportunities to play in several bands and in a few recording sessions. But, as of yet, he hasn’t had that big break into the industry that he desires. However, he does get to use his gift as a musician each week in his church. He’s a really great drummer, and I love hearing him play during worship. He may never get that break he hopes for, but I know he knows that God is using Him to serve at his church each week.
Have you ever considered why you attend church? People go to church for many reasons. Some attend out of a desire to know God better. Others attend church out of a sense of responsibility or guilt. Still others view church as a place to socialize or meet new people.
There are many reasons why you should go to church. The greatest of these is that you love God and desire to know Him more fully through worship, serving, growing in knowledge of Him, and fellowship with other believers.
Up until this point in your life, you may have lived in a home where church attendance was just as much a routine for you as brushing your teeth. But come post-graduation, this will change. If you are moving to another city after graduation, will be serving in the military, or are headed off to college, the emphasis (and effort) you place upon church attendance will take on a whole new meaning, if for no other reason than because Mom won’t be there anymore to get her little darling out of bed for Sunday school.
Whether graduation is next spring or several years away, you don’t have to make the choice today of where you go to church after graduating. But you need to solidify in your mind now the choice of whether you go to church after graduation. Being confident in your beliefs about church will help you make the right choice about where and how often you will attend. Here are a few questions for you to answer about church priorities:
What kind of church should I attend?
Even at this point in your life, it’s not too early to begin thinking and praying about what church you will attend after graduating high school. Finding the church God has called you to may take some time and will take patience. If you give this over to God and ask for His wisdom, He will show you.
What denomination of church should I attend?
There are many different beliefs among churches, and denomination isn’t as important as beliefs. Still, a denominational affiliation may be important to you. Regardless, I encourage you to Google various church denominations of interest to you and research each. One of the first things you should do when you visit a church is to find out what the church believes. Talk to a pastor about the church’s doctrinal beliefs. Meet with elders. Check out the church’s website, blogs, and podcasts. Every church should have a mission statement or a statement of faith, and church leaders should be able to clearly articulate their beliefs to you. The bottom line is, they must be a Christian church that believes and unequivocally teaches salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
How is God calling me to serve in the church?
Worship style, attire, décor, and more are all issues you may want to consider when choosing a church. But more important than the style of worship, suit or jeans, and organ or guitar is your consideration of service. Psalm 22:22 talks about God’s congregation joining together to praise His name. Be careful not to fall into the trap of attending church for what church will do for you. One of the greatest privileges of going to church is to join with others to serve God and to bring Him glory, just like my drummer friend in Nashville is doing! Psalm 134:1-2 reminds us of the importance (and privilege) we have as God’s servants to come together as a body of believers to praise His name. As you plug in to a church to bring God glory, He will plug you in to places of service where you can impact the lives of others and honor Him.
What questions should I ask before joining a church?
Make a list of things that are important to you in a church and find the answers to such questions as these: Does this church preach the Word of God? Does this church encourage fellowship and community? Does this church support the outreach of missionaries nationally and globally? Does this church encourage financial accountability and giving?
How often should I attend church?
How often you attend isn’t as important as being genuinely involved in the church. After high school, your church-attending schedule may fluctuate from week to week and month to month as you adjust to your new life on the other side of the cap and gown. But make church a priority in your life. If you don’t do this from the beginning, life will become more and more busy and church will become less and less a part of your life.