One of my most important jobs as a pastor is to help people find a good church when they move. Here’s why:
These are some of my recent conversations. One couple was going to move to Europe. He was going first, and she was going to follow later. They said, “Can you recommend a good church?” I told them they needed to find an evangelical church (ideally reformed) that was welcoming, focused on outreach (a key indicator of health), and able to ground people in the gospel.
I asked them if they had found housing yet. He said they had something temporary. We agreed that was good because the church shouldn’t be too far away (otherwise their participation would be limited). So we came up with a game plan. We agreed to look for good churches together and then they would look for more permanent housing.
Then I had this conversation with my brother-in-law. He mentioned that his daughter and son-in-law lived in Boston. It’s been a terrible winter—one of the worst ever. It’s also incredibly expensive. They thought of moving because of the cold and expense. But they had decided to stay because they had found a warm, energetic, evangelical church where they had gotten connected with friends, and were able to serve and grow in Christ.
And then I remembered a young couple in another church years ago. They were building their young family on Jesus, and the Word in a vibrant community of faith. They were fairly young believers. He was offered a job with more money in a city a couple of hours away. Two years later they came back. They said they missed the church, hadn’t been able to connect well, and it was more valuable for them to have a good church, take a pay cut then to become spiritually apathetic.
This week I saw a news story in NPR News. The article was how often high achieving students from low income families living in small towns often don’t apply to elite colleges. However, the article focused on an exception to the rule. It mentioned Kristen Perez who grew up in the small town of Celina, Texas. Most of the community were migrant workers.
The family actually hosted a small Pentecostal church out of their home. It was Spanish language Pentecostal. Kristen’s father would lead worship on his red electric guitar. Kristen played bass and her sister played the drums. Her mother, Sandy, sat on the front row.
While many low-income families would never think of applying to an elite college, Kristen was an exception. She applied to and was accepted at Dartmouth College. With scholarships, she will only pay around $5,000. But here is the last line of the article, “The first thing Sandy Perez did when she heard her daughter had been accepted was to look up churches in the area for Kristen to attend. She found one!”
Three cheers for Sandy. She knows over the long haul what will be more important than going to a prestigious school is continuing to grow in Christ and making him lord of every aspect of your life. The Lord never intended for us to “go it alone.” He died partly to create a community of people focused on Himself and His Word. It’s one of God’s gifts to help us keep first things first in our lives. When you think you might make a move, stop by my office or call and let’s help you find a good church first.