Finding a Place to Call Home
“Please feel welcome to worship with us.” These were the words spoken to my husband and me as we visited our first church in our new town. Are there any more welcoming words? You are welcome here. You are welcome to worship with us. You are wanted here. We have a place for you. You will have a family here.
As a military family, there is nothing more important to us than finding a place to call home at each new duty station. I have found success with each move by going outside the gate to see what churches out in the community can offer us.
Each time we move, this welcoming environment is something I search for. I want to be wanted. I want my skills to be used. I want a place where worshiping together is a welcome and participatory experience between the members of a church family.
I have heard from many military families that they find this search difficult. They either have difficulty finding the style of worship they seek, or they have difficulty finding that welcoming presence in the churches they attend. There are two things you have to realize when searching for a new church home: a) Yes, the church does need to welcome new members, BUT, b) YOU also need to put yourself out there to be a member of a church. This is a relationship you are building for your spiritual wellness, so it takes participation by you and your family as well as the church you are attending.
Some churches know how to welcome new members very successfully. It takes a lot of skill and confidence for members of a church to reach out to people they do not know. I am always humbled and touched when we find a church that knows how to make people feel welcome, no matter where they came from or what circumstances brought them into the sanctuary. Successful churches know how to tell members to “come as they are.”
When you take the time to find community outside the installation gates, you set yourself up to serve your local community in ways that only military families can. We are uniquely well-traveled, used to change, and have many experiences to share. This offers richness to a local church family and nurtures your spiritual and mental health. There is a place for all people in a church. Everyone has a gift to give. These churches need you as much as you need them.
I know that each time we move my first order of business is to find a church home. And for me, when I find a church, it very much feels like coming home.
Do you struggle to find a place to worship when you move?