One of the conversations I have at least once a week, is with a minister thinking about leaving their church to go to a new church. I always refer them to Wade Hodges ebooks. Wade is the preaching minster at the Preston Road Church of Christ and for this blog series he adapted the following from his ebook: Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Should Answer Before Moving to a New Church.
Last week he talked about when the right time to leave a church is, adapted from his book When to Leave. If you’re interested in purchasing both. You can download both When To Leave and Before You Go as one ebook here.
How Do You Know When You’ve Found The Right One?
“Every time I fall in love I feel a little sick to my stomach. I’m going to marry the one who makes me the sickest.”-Someone Funny
“You’ll know when you know.”-A Four-Time Divorcee
In Before You Go, I spend quite a bit of time coaching readers on to how to tell if a church isn’t a good fit, rather than helping them figure out which one is the right fit. My goal in writing it was to help ministers avoid making unwise decisions, due either to lack of information about the church or lack of personal insight.
Still, the question remains: How do you know when you’ve found the right church and can celebrate saying “yes” to a great new opportunity?
It depends on what we mean by the “right” church. “Right” doesn’t mean perfect. It doesn’t mean trouble-free. It doesn’t mean you won’t be in for a few unpleasant surprises a couple of weeks after you’ve unpacked the moving van.
However . . .
If they have a vision based on an honest assessment of their strengths, weaknesses, and history and you can’t help but feel attracted to their vision because of your strengths, weaknesses, and history, then it may be the right church for you.
If it’s obvious they’re not looking for you to be the solution to their problems, but rather are looking for someone like you to come strengthen their team with your specific gifts, then it may be the right church for you.
If after hearing about their past mistakes, current problems, and potential difficulties, you still feel drawn to them, and maybe even worried that you would forever regret passing on the opportunity to join them on their journey, then it may be the right church for you.
If you sense that you will be loved and accepted as a broken human being who is still trying to figure out how to follow Jesus even though it’s your job to stand up and tell others about him, then it may be the right church for you.
If they are diligent in listening to and addressing the concerns of your spouse during the interview process, and if your spouse feels like they “get it,” then it may be the right church for you.
If you sense that the members of the leadership team are the kind of people you would want to be friends with even if you weren’t their pastor, then it may be the right church for you.
If you would attend the church even if you didn’t work there, then it may be the right church for you. (This one is huge. I’m amazed at how many ministers wouldn’t attend their church if they weren’t paid to be there.)
None of this guarantees you won’t end up scratching your head a few years later at the mess you’ve chosen to join. But if you ask enough of the right questions throughout the interview process, you can take comfort in knowing you’ve reduced the chances of being blindsided by something you should have seen coming.