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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Church Search Matrix

The church search matrix is about clarifying what’s important to you and what’s important to the church, then taking it to God in prayer.

I've filled in sixteen qualities Colleen and I look for in a church.





Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Leadership: What Difference Will I Make?

The Church Search Matrix

By Evan Nehring

The church search matrix is about clarifying what’s important to you and what’s important to the church, then taking it to God in prayer.

Honestly, our family is looking for a church. We've been part of the Vineyard denomination for close to a decade, but there’s a problem. It’s not here. We drive thirty miles north to get to church up in Tomahawk but that church is a mission station to Tomahawk, not Wausau. So here we sit.

It’s challenging and sometimes painful to look for a new church. If you've grown up in the church, as both Colleen and I have, you've gotten used to knowing people, connecting with people. Being a stranger is…well…strange.

Photo Credit: James Preston on Flickr Creative Commons
Church at Georgioupoli, Crete

So you know by now that I like to chart things out. I like to take all of the information, lay it out on the table like a thousand-piece puzzle, and begin to organize and prioritize.

I feel very connected with the I-just-left-home crowd in this area. When you leave town, you don’t just leave your family. You leave your church. Yes, it’s good to stay connected, and that’s easier now with all of our gadgets, but Col and I can hardly connect thirty-miles away…let alone much farther.

We could opt for occasional visits to church. In fact, we had a little home church service yesterday since we got back late from Thanksgiving travel. It’s very nice…but it’s not church. Church transforms lives, communities and the world. Church preserves something natural and beautiful in the way God designed for us to live together. We only get part of that at home.

We’ve visited some places where they were doing wonderful things for God…and we just didn't really fit. It would be different if we were overseas and we found these places. We’d be thrilled to have something so relevant. And I don’t want to be a church shopper, like I’m looking to be served hand and foot for the lowest possible price.

It’s more like getting married. Yes, we ultimately listen to God’s direction, but part of that comes through using our God-given brains to evaluate how our family fits with each local body. So I've created the Church Search Matrix. 


The matrix is about looking at what’s important to you, then looking at what’s important to the church, and seeing how things fit together. I find these sixteen categories helpful in our searching. You may want to rename things or swap them out completely. Go for it! The matrix is just a tool.


How the Matrix Works

I want to emphasize that this is not about a mathematical formula for picking a church. The church search matrix is about clarifying what’s important to you and what’s important to the church, then taking it to God in prayer.

I've filled in sixteen qualities we look for in a church. Feel free, again, to add or swap qualities. For each of the qualities, choose how important it is to you. The is the importance factor, 0 to 3. Then for each quality jot a few words on how each church does in that area, along with a 0 to 3 value.

Then multiply the value by the importance factor to give a total value for each quality for each church. It'll look like this:



When it’s all filled out, just add the total values for each church to get a total score for each church. Then the praying really starts. I highlighted some of the squares in green or red to pray through whether those pros or cons would swing our decision. Colleen and I also agreed that if a church has a low value in an area that’s important to us, we need to pray about plugging in and helping make that a church strength.

More than anything, I want to show that it’s healthy and good to weigh the values of a church against your own values.

Comments Are Always Welcome...

I'm posting this with a prayer for God to help you find the very best church home. How's that going for you?

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