It has been suggested that adults make upwards of 35,000 decisions each day. Some decisions are trivial while others can be life altering. One decision my wife and I made this year has already proved to be life changing: our decision to join Valley Forge Baptist (VFB).
When Krystal and I moved from Philadelphia to Collegeville, the plan didn’t include leaving our church home. At the time, we were working in Philadelphia and it was just the two of us. We were happily serving at our church, where we had formed close bonds and friendships. However, after four years, two children, and a series of job changes, the realities of our changing life structure became increasingly difficult to maintain. So, after much prayer, we realized some adjustments had to be made that would require us to make some tough decisions.
For months we mulled over the pros and cons of various scenarios, but there was no denying the difficulty of any of the propositions. Nevertheless, after much prayer, thoughtful consideration, and wise counsel, we decided to move closer to my job, which was out of state. In the interim, we would join a local church near our current home until we moved. However, just as Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps,” God had a different plan for us. The plan led us to stay in Collegeville and find our new place of worship there as well.
For a Christian, finding a new church home and becoming a member there can seem daunting and disconcerting. This is especially true when other significant life changes such as moving into a new home or neighborhood are thrown into the mix. During the process, questions arise: How will my (previous) church family and leadership feel about our leaving? Will we feel “at home,” “safe,” or “connected” in our new church? Will the kids like it? Will we find a good church where we can serve God? All these very valid questions can be overwhelming. But thank God, He hasn’t left us to make these decisions alone.
So how does a Christian effectively transition into a new church home? Well, every situation is different, and while the Bible hasn’t laid out a step-by-step process, there are some pragmatic steps we followed—through the leading of the Holy Spirit—that led us to our new home at VFB.
Consider your options
There are a lot of churches out there. Not all are created equal and not all are what they appear to be (in name, practice, or belief). For us it was important to identify a few churches within our community that: (1) aligned with sound, fundamental biblical beliefs; (2) provided a place for spiritual growth; and (3) could nurture our growing family so that we could be effective servants in the Kingdom of God. Using those fundamental principles, we visited (i.e., evaluated) several churches in the area.
Each church we visited was unique and delivered a variation of each of our core principles. However, VFB not only met our expectations, it exceeded them. VFB is a Bible-believing, preaching, and teaching church that challenged our thinking and daily living. Furthermore, we encountered a strong presence of families in every life stage that truly seemed to be vital and well nourished.
Commune with members
Galatians 6:10 says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The very first time we visited VFB, we were embraced by various members with such warmth and love; it was reminiscent of our previous church. This was critical.
Over a few months, we participated in several church activities outside of Sunday worship services. Those activities included adult Bible fellowship classes and a couples retreat, and our children attended school at the VFB academy. During this time of fellowship, we found the members at VFB to be a consistent and true demonstration of VFB’s moniker, “the caring church.”
Connect with leadership
John Maxwell, a prolific teacher on leadership, once said; “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” Nowadays with social media, just about anybody can call himself or herself a leader simply because of having a few hundred followers on Twitter. For a modern-day preacher, that wouldn’t be abnormal. But what we noticed with the leadership at VFB (i.e., Pastor Scott Wendal and his associate pastoral staff) was an army of several hundred believers representing various cultures, nations, and life experiences actively following the leadership. And even with that reality, Pastor Wendal and the pastoral staff sought us out to connect with us directly.
Whether through a text or email message or through the Sunday message, each associate pastor, with Pastor Wendal leading the way, aligned his preaching with his leading. In other words, there was a true sense of “practice what you preach” going on here. That formed the basis for the connection we desired and have today.
Commit to membership
This last “checkbox” would seem like the most obvious to check, but I think it’s worth mentioning because some Christians just don’t do it. Because Krystal and I were leaving a church to join VFB, we felt compelled to speak with the pastor who had watched over us for so many years. We wanted to talk with him about our decision and seek his blessings. After we completed this critical step, we professed our desire to join VFB to Pastor Wendal and the entire VFB church body. Now we are happy and active members at VFB and so excited to see how God will use us here.