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Visiting Churches

The Next Steps

Another exploration of visiting churches has wrapped up, producing memories and insights. These can serve to move us forward in our spiritual journey, better prepared to worship God, serve others, and experience community. Where do we go from here? What are the next steps?

Consider these three discussion questions about the next steps.

1. Church means different things to different people, with our understanding of it evolving over time. The same applies to faith. Review your answers in this workbook.

How has your view of church grown? What changes should we make in how we put our faith into action?

2. I hope the questions in this book have spurred a lot of great ideas. But without action, great ideas amount to nothing.

What are the top three things we want to start doing differently?

3. When visiting churches, one person often made the difference between us feeling accepted and rejected.

In addition to changes we want to make in our own interactions with visitors, how can we encourage others to follow our example?

[Read about How to Go to Church or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

5 Discussion Questions about How to Go to Church

For both visitors and regular attendees, three keys exist to having a successful, meaningful, and Spirit-filled church experience: attitude, prayer, and expectation. Following these steps can make most any church experience—despite its shortcomings—a positive one. 

Consider these five discussion questions about How to Go to Church.

1. In going to church I’ve experienced both positive and negative outcomes, which often hinged on my attitude, prayer, and expectations—or the lack thereof.

Which of these three keys should we focus on to realize a more positive outcome at church?

Tip 1: Attitude is Everything

If we approach church with a bad attitude, we shouldn’t expect to enjoy our time there. It’s foolish to assume a positive outcome if we hold a surly disposition.

2. When we approach church positively, our optimism will direct our attention to celebrate the noteworthy and give us the grace to overlook the not-so-great.

What can we do to go to church with an eager attitude? How can we encourage others to do the same?

Tip 2: Prayer Is Essential

When Candy and I started visiting churches, we committed ourselves to a pre-church prayer each week. So significant were the benefits of these prayers that we continued the practice when we returned to our home church. 

3. After several weeks, however, our pre-church prayer slipped into a rut, with us repeating the same tired phrases each time.

Are we willing to pray before church every Sunday? How can we avoid our prayers becoming routine?

Tip 3: Expectations Form Experience

The foundation formed by prayer prepares us for the church service. It serves to shape expectations, which drives experience. Most of the time, positive expectations result in positive outcomes, while negative thinking produces negative experiences.

4. We say our pre-church prayer in faith, and we prove it from the activities that spring forth from our expectations. This is how we put faith into action.

If we don’t like church, who’s to blame: church, God, or us?

Go to Church Summary

Whether visiting a new church or attending our home church, we should follow a wise strategy, remembering that attitude is everything, prayer is essential, and expectations form experience. Then we’ll be ready to worship God and serve others.

5. When we go to church properly prepared, we can receive God’s blessing and be a blessing to others.

What must we change to ensure we go to church with the right attitude, covered with prayer, and with godly expectations?

[Read about How to Go to Church or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Discussion Questions on How to Be an Engaging Church

The experiences I share in this book are my experiences. Others may have different observations. I’m an introvert, as is a slight majority of people. Even so, I doubt my reactions are unique to me or even to other introverts. 

Consider these fifthteen discussion questions about How to Be an Engaging Church.

1. Whether introvert or extrovert, I’ve never talked with anyone who claimed they could visit a new church without some degree of anxiety.

How can the knowledge that visitors carry some unease better inform our interactions with them?

2. In visiting churches, I had a most supportive wife at my side. With her, I stood much braver than I would have on my own.

Who can we invite to go with us on our spiritual journeys?

3. Visiting a church alone is even harder than going with a friend. It’s easy to see why someone with even the best intentions of visiting will stay home.

Who can we invite to go to church with us?

4. People hold to the Sunday schedule they know—whether staying home or attending church. Maintaining our norm is easier than trying something new.

What do we need to change in our Sunday routine?

5. Churches that want to grow must do everything possible to make it less scary for a visitor to show up. Being welcoming is a start, but there’s more. Churches must be likeable, even irresistible.

How can we become irresistible people? 

Tip 1: Make it Easy for Visitors

Most people today go online to find information about a church they’re thinking of visiting. Therefore, having an attractive, up-to-date, and visitor-friendly website is essential. Don’t make them search. They don’t have much patience.

6. Some churches forego a website and try social media instead. But social media platforms can change their rules, restrict access, and even shut us down.

What impact would our church feel if we lost our social media presence?

7. Our website must be attractive, be easy to navigate, and follow best practices. It needs a makeover every few years to not look dated.

What can we do to improve our church’s website? 

8. Make it easy for prospective visitors to contact our church with questions. This means listing a phone number and email address. Respond quickly to both. Most churches don’t.

How can we help our church be more responsive to visitor questions?

Tip 2: Create a Great Impression

When a visitor arrives at church, create a great first impression, building on their perception that began with our website. A website may encourage a person to visit a church, but it takes a personal connection to turn one-time visitors into returnees. 

9. Some large churches have parking lot attendants to direct traffic and forward-thinking smaller churches have greeters in their parking lot to welcome visitors and answer questions.

What impression does our church make before people enter the building? 

10. Greet visitors at the building entrance with a smile, welcome them, and open the door. Greeters should focus on people they don’t recognize.

Whether we’re an official greeter or not, what can we do to better welcome visitors?

11. A positive welcome extends inside the building. Regardless of church size, seek ways to assist those who look confused.

What can we do to rescue a visitor who looks lonely or lost?

Tip 3: Greet Well

As mentioned in 52 Churches, there are three opportunities to greet visitors: before the service, during the service, and after the service. Few churches do all three well and too many fail at each one.

12. Pre-service greetings can occur in the parking lot, at the front door, and inside the facility. In addition to official greeters, everyone should take part.

Regardless of how outgoing we are, what can we do to interact with visitors?

13. If there’s a greeting during the service, we must be visitor-focused, not friend-focused. Make eye contact, smile, and offer a handshake. Share our name. Ask theirs. Now introduce them to someone else.

How can we better embrace visitors during the greeting time? 

14. The final greeting occurs after the service. Before visitors scoot out, talk to them. Just be friendly. Seek a connection. Invite them to stay for any after-church activity.

How can we better connect with visitors after the service?

Engaging Church Summary

To grow, a church should engage with visitors. This starts with online information, helping them to decide to visit. It continues by making multiple good impressions when they arrive.

It culminates with greeting them successfully before, during, and after the service.

15. Churches won’t succeed in each area every time, but we should work to succeed in as many as possible, as often as possible.

What can we do to be more engaging as a church? As individuals?

[Read How to Be an Engaging Church, or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Our New Church Home: Discussion Questions

For 52 Churches, we took a year off and visited a different Christian church every Sunday. Then we returned to our home church. For More Than 52 Churches we interspersed our visits with regular attendance at our home base. 

Consider these five discussion questions about Our New Church Home.

1. Staying connected to our home church kept us anchored in spiritual community as we visited others.

What provides our spiritual anchor? If we don’t have one, where can we look for it?

2. Attending our home church required a fifteen-minute trip, driving past many other options that were more accessible and more inviting.

Why do we go to the church we do? Is it to meet our preferences or to advance God’s kingdom? 

3. For years, I’ve longed to go to church in my community, worshiping and serving with my neighbors and family.

How important is it for us to worship in our community with our neighbors?

4. After our first visit to Church #67, we returned the next week. We came back a third time, staying for their after-church meeting to learn more about their community.

How can we encourage first-time visitors to become regular attendees?

5. Soon going to this new church turned into a habit. It was a good habit to form.

Not all habits are beneficial, so how can we discern the difference? Do we have a habit we should break?

[Read about our new church home or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

The Greek Orthodox Church: Discussion Questions for Church 75

Greek Orthodox sits fourth on my mental list of churches to visit. Like Anglican Catholic, I’ve never talked to anyone who went to a Greek Orthodox church.

Historically, I understand they split from the Roman Catholic Church about a thousand years ago. 

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 75.

1. What little I know about Greek Orthodox practices comes from what I’ve seen in movies and television. This is hardly an ideal source of information.

In what ways does the media incorrectly shape our views of spiritual practices we don’t know?

2. Inertia keeps me from visiting a nearby Greek Orthodox church. An element of fear over the unknown also conspires to keep me away.

How might inertia or fear hold us back from what God wants to teach us?

3. A degree of church-visiting fatigue keeps me stagnant. Similar issues may keep others home on Sunday and thwart them from finding a faith community to plug into.

Are we part of a supportive faith community? If not, what should change?

[Read about Church 75 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Visiting Churches

Anglican Catholic: Discussion Questions for Church #74

Another church is Anglican Catholic. They’re also on my mental list of churches to visit. I know nothing about them or their faith practices. I expect their service to be much like Roman Catholic, but I’m not sure. 

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 74.

1. I’m curious and intrigued. I’m sure I can gather much to contemplate about our common faith and our varied worship practices.

What steps can we take to expand our understanding of worshiping God and embrace the faith journey of others? 

2. Unlike other streams of Christianity and other Protestant denominations, I’ve never met anyone who was Anglican Catholic—at least not that I’m aware of.

What do our friends know about our faith and which church we go to?

3. Lacking information about their practices, this Anglican Catholic church emerges for me with a mystical aura, but I doubt that’s accurate.

What uninformed assumptions might we hold about others that we should seek to verify or correct?

[Read about Church 74 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Mormon: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church #73

Next on my mental list of churches to visit sits a contentious consideration. It’s Mormon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS for short). I remain undecided if we should visit them or not.

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 73.

1. I read that most Mormons consider themselves Christians, whereas most non-Mormon Christians don’t. I suspect this conclusion, however, comes mostly from a lack of accurate information.

How can we form a nonjudgmental understanding about the faith journey of others? 

2. The Mormons Candy and I know exemplify Christian talk, behavior, and beliefs more so than a lot of Christians we know.

Which do we esteem more, people who say they’re Christian or those who act like it?

3. Mormons hold to some beliefs that non-Mormons find strange. Yet, I suspect, the same holds true with every church.

How open are we to other spiritual practices? How sure are we of our own?

[Read about Church 73 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Respected and Esteemed: Discussion Questions for Church #72

In addition to these three remaining churches on my spreadsheet is my mental list of four more. The first of these churches is the Salvation Army. Most people know the Salvation Army for their red donation kettles at Christmastime. 

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 72.

1. The Salvation Army addresses the needs of the homeless and provides disaster relief and humanitarian aid. They’re also a church. Few people know this.

What would we think about being known as a service organization first and a church second?

2. I think highly of the Salvation Army. I suspect most everyone does. Though I’m sure they aren’t perfect, I’ve yet to hear anyone say a critical word.

What do people think about us? Our church? The Savior we represent?

3. The Salvation Army positively impacts their community and world. Helping one person at a time, they make a difference, serving as the hands and feet of Jesus.

How can we make our world better?

[Read about Church 72 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Church #71: A Messianic Jewish Congregation

Before 52 Churches, we visited a Messianic Jewish congregation: Jews who believe in Jesus as their Jewish savior, mixing Hebrew tradition with Christian faith. Recalling our time with this first Messianic Jewish congregation, I add another one to my list.

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 71.

1. Meeting Saturday evenings, the service at this first church involved time for worship and teaching. They concluded with a potluck, sharing food with a Jewish flair.

Besides a shared meal, how else can we foster spiritual community?

2. With some parts of the service in Hebrew, worshiping God in another tongue brought a freshness to me. Their unfamiliar traditions strangely energized me.

How can we keep our relationship with God fresh and invigorating?

3. Their worship space was in the basement of a Protestant church. This was ideal, since neither group used the facility at the same time.

In what creative ways can we find worship space for ourselves or provide it to others?

[Read about Church 71 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Visiting Churches

Unplanned and Spontaneous: Church #70

I once stumbled upon a group of Young Quakers online. Their faith, passion for community, and desire to make a difference in their world drew me in. I was intrigued and curious, but they had no gathering close by, so I searched for similar meetings in my area.

The More Than 52 Churches Workbook:  Pursue Christian Community and Grow in Our Faith

Consider these three discussion questions about Church 70.

1. Casting a wider net for Quakers in general, I found a meeting nearby. They get together the first, third, and fifth Sundays of each month.

How open are we to not go to church every week? 

2. Another interesting difference is they have no minister. With no clergy to lead them, everyone can participate in an egalitarian manner.

How well would we function in a leaderless faith community as true equals?

3. According to their website, their meetings are unplanned and spontaneous. I suspect they spend a lot of time listening to the Holy Spirit, reacting as appropriate.

How open are we to listen to the Holy Spirit?

Be willing to consider an unplanned and spontaneous church service.

[Read about Church 70 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

Get your copy of More Than 52 Churches today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.