Now that you’re married…

wedding ringsJust a few weeks ago, our one and only son was married. His new wife is terrific. I was honored to be the one to pronounce them husband and wife. Now, they have started a life together with jobs, a house, a puppy, and lots of Thank You notes to write!

Jay and Lacie have bought their first house. They set up their electricity and internet and trash service. Lots of things are settled, but one big thing remains to be done – finding a church. This is one of the big decisions a young couple has to make, but it’s not always an easy decision.

Now that you’re married, what should a young couple look for in a church? It seems that the top of the list might include a church having lots of other young couples so they can make friends. Or maybe the newlyweds might be looking for “hip” church with a great band and a pastor with a man bun who wears flip flops on Sunday. It could be that the ideal church is one with a coffee shop – well, neither Jay nor Lacie drink coffee, but at least a coffee shop with comfy chairs would be a cool place to hang out. Or maybe they’re looking down the road a few years to find a church with a whiz bang children’s ministry. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with any of those options.

A lot of factors that go into choosing a church, but from a pastor/dad perspective let me share a few thoughts. Here are some questions to ask in choosing your church:

Is there an atmosphere of love?

Churches should not just be friendly; they should be loving. That love should be lived out among the members, but it should also extend to every guest who walks in the door; in fact, it should extend well beyond the doors. The question is not just where those attending the church love each other, but whether they love others. Find a church where love flows freely among the members and from the members.

Is the theology sound?

What a church believes matters. A church that has all the bells and whistles and fills its parking lot up three times every Sunday morning is no guarantee that the doctrine of the church is solid. Check the church’s statement of faith (probably on their website). Consider their denominational affiliation. It’s important that your beliefs line up with their beliefs. Lots of families have changed churches because of the size of a youth group without ever considering what the church’s core beliefs and values are.

Does the church have a heart for missions?

A church that has sound theology and a loving heart should naturally be a church that has a heart for missions. For a church to be in rhythm with heartbeat of God, it needs to look beyond itself at the lostness in the world. If the budget is posted online or available in print, see how much of their budget goes toward missions, evangelism, outreach, and ministry.

Is there a small group where we can connect?

The worship service seems to be where all the action is, but that hour each Sunday is only part of the big picture of the church’s life. I have often called small groups “Miracle-Gro” for the Christian life. It is here that you can get to know people more personally. It is here that deep relationships can form that may last a lifetime. It is here where you have the opportunity to be blessed and be a blessing, be served and serve others. And just something else to consider – your small group doesn’t have to be made up of all young couples. Some churches have groups that are mixed in ages, and these can be some of the sweetest groups you could be part of.

Are their opportunities to plug in and serve?

It’s great when you find a church that pours truth and love into your life, but it’s better by far when you also find a church that helps you pour truth and love into the lives of others. Serving others is both a responsibility and a privilege. God has gifted each person with natural talents and spiritual gifts for the purpose of serving others. Consider how you might serve others both inside and outside the church walls. In other words, don’t just settle for having your names on the church roll book; be a vital part of the life of the church.

Know this – Mom and I are praying that God will lead you both to a great church that can help you grow in your faith, strengthen your marriage, provide godly friends, teach you solid truth, and encourage you to become the man and woman of God that He is calling you to be.

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