Finding the right church for my family is a lot like looking for a husband on Tinder. The saying “you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince” has never been more relatable. I thought that we’d find a church match on our first church blind date. And that is so not what happened. Sometimes a church is a sweaty guy who lives in his mom’s basement and it’s perfectly fine if you swipe left. Don’t settle. Ever.
All churches are not created equal. How would I know? Well after being involved in what many may consider being a cult for my entire adolescence, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on church red flags. On the flipside of that, I am hyper-aware of the things that I’ve always wanted to find in a church. If this was a dating app, my preference would be tall, dark, and handsome. Yes, I am describing Jesus. That’s bible.
So God has a sense of humor and had me download a Church Tinder app. I swiped left so many times that I nearly gave up. He was working on me one bad church date at a time. Testing my perseverance for sure. The thing with God? There is no instant download, he wants us to learn through delayed gratification AKA our faith.
If you’ve been in my shoes, you’ve likely struggled with that next step. What church would I introduce our family to? How do I go about finding the right church for my family? Just type in “Nondenominational Church” on Google and HALLELUJAH you’ve got a hundred different churches to choose from. It’s like Christmas morning folks. Which by the way I never celebrated Christmas as a kid but I’m wise enough to know that some gifts just aren’t that great. Like socks. Don’t settle for a socks church.
Here’s what happened when we Church Tindered:
Vodoo Nonsense Church
We went FULL ON big box church on our first try with a Google match. Think BIG, like a skateboard park and a coffee house. We made it through an entire service, albeit nothing resonated with us. At the end, the pastor or dare I call him a wizard, encouraged his church to just “go ahead and speak in tongues”. He presented the option like he was a restaurant server offering his customers dessert. To me, speaking gibberish or in tongues as they call it is about as natural as using peanut butter as hair gel. Totally bonkers. So we were out of there.
The Divided Church
Next stop was a local more traditional option. Honestly a bit vanilla for my taste. I don’t think that God fancies one flavor over another as long as the heart is in the right place. We attended this church for months under the leadership of a wise pastor who lovingly but firmly spoke truth. However, church politics became a thangggg within this congregation. Nothing like a divided group of disgruntled church members ticked off about a budget to send someone like me running. Politics in church are like turds in a punch bowl.
Money Talks Church
Off to another big box. We walk in, and the female usher tells me, the mom of an infant “if your baby cries we will ask you to leave.” Contrary to its name, the church was not oozing with grace. Then the pastor proceeds to throw in how there’s a celebrity member of said church only about 1000 times in a 45-minute sermon. If the pastor is name dropping and it’s not that of Jesus, that’s not bible.
Pressure to Serve Church
Finally, there appears to be some glorious light at the end of our church tinder struggle. We find a place that’s fairly new with a cool young pastor. The music was loud (in a great way) and the sermons were relatable. It was like the first good date in a long while. Downside here? It was a “build a church”. A church that meets in a school. They bring in a couple Uhauls filled with props that make it appear less school and more chapel-like.
They also STRONGLY encouraged in EVERY sermon that EVERYONE should participate in the setup and the break down of the church. “Serving” as they referred to it. This was a first for us. And with our new developing faith and two small children in tow, we were NOT looking for a job on their crew. It felt like a pyramid scheme. Either you sign up to serve or you weren’t a part of the “in crowd”. We needed Jesus, not a hard hat. Sadly, we swiped left yet again.
The Get Baptized Like Right Now Church
The religion that I was raised within was hot and heavy with the shame game. So when we tried yet another new church that encouraged everyone to get baptized like yesterday I was already on the fence. It’s called a spiritual journey, and you shouldn’t “wash away your sins” due to being pressured. If they are encouraging this sort of commitment at every age level while telling you to invite everyone you know to attend said baptisms then it may be more about gaining new members and less about your relationship with Jesus.
Within the first 10 minutes, they already wanted me to commit my family to their church and baptize my dogs. Ok so not really, but the intensity level was at a 100. I’m cool with a sermon that consists of all things biblical, but this place had zero chill. Swipe left.
Finding the Right Church for My Family – Prince Charming Church
After so many failed church relationships it felt like my Christian eggs were drying up. Three solid years after we started this search, we stumbled into an unassuming chapel. Call it Christian menopause if you will but that first worship song the band played had my eyes sweating. Then came the preacher. He served the sermon straight up. No fancy garnishes here. Something I immediately noticed was that there was no mention of “give us all your money”. No guilt trips to serve on their “team”. This pastor cares enough to tell you that he’s been in your shoes and has had his fair share of screw-ups. The realness was refreshing. I’ll take humble pie any day over a phony baloney sandwich.
In the end, it all comes down to grace. Not being some shiny, perfect “Christian” like these other churches may have you believe. We swiped right and have been in a committed relationship with this church for the last year. Like what Kip said when he met Lafawnduh online, “I guess you could say that things are getting pretty serious.”