Church shopping is the pits. We started on Methodist churches this morning. That means we're getting desperate. :) (That's a joke, Hope friends!) I know it's been a while since we moved and had to find a new church, but I don't remember it being quite this frustrating. There are so many factors going into this.
What denomination? We both grew up Baptist, but we were members of an Evangelical Free church in Springfield and a Methodist church in Jersey. As much as we still feel like Baptists, we're not married to the denomination. Which only increases the number of choices.
What "worship style"? Most churches do "contemporary" worship anymore -- praise bands and such. Keith has never cared for that. Today, we went to a church with very traditional music. Chancel choir, old hymns, organ (and a great organist, too). I have to say, it bordered on glorious. I enjoy the contemporary praise stuff, too, but I do miss the majesty of the old-fashioned style done really well. Unfortunately, that style doesn't appeal to very many young people anymore, so most services in that style are full of seniors.
What size of church? Big churches have activities to appeal to our whole family -- drama, music and such for me, recreational ministries for Keith, active youth group for Leslie (and lots of preschoolers for her to care for), active children's ministry for Eastin, Bible studies for us all. But they also can be very impersonal -- easy to jump through the hoops and never really be personally accountable for your spiritual growth.
Small churches, on the other hand, are often more intimate, you get to know people better, more sense of community. But not much in the way of activities. Maybe that shouldn't matter, but it's what we're used to now . . Plus, we want a good number of kids in the church so the girls have opportunity to meet a lot of friends. Plus, I don't want to feel pressure to volunteer for every job with an opening because the volunteer pool is small.
And then there are the other little issues that come up. Today's church had a woman for an associate pastor. Now, I know for a lot of my friends, that's a no-brainer. Either, "Woman pastor? Why not?" or, "Woman pastor? Of COURSE not!!!" Sigh. I just don't know yet what to do with that one.
The things that really matter, that really should be the factors in our decision, are unfortunately the things you can't always judge from a couple of visits. I remember someone saying once that you should look for the church where God is obviously at work, and join Him in His work there. You can't always tell that from one or two worship services.
That's why I'm guessing our search will be going on for a while . .