Some days it feels like my family has been searching for a church for many years and other days it feels like the journey hasn’t been long at all.
It has been long enough to allow us for visits to three dozen different churches, including repeat visits to nine. The search has given us enough clarity to select two congregations to learn more about through participating in their classes for perspective new members.
These churches, hereafter Church A and Church B differ dramatically. These congregations are on opposite ends of the size continuum, are geographically separated by many miles, and are affiliated with different denominations.
Notably, however, Church A and Church B score well in different ways on our rubric of what really matters to us. And, both are affiliated with Mainline Protestant denominations.
Provides an occasional two session class for those considering membership. Each session runs for two hours and involves many lay and pastoral leaders. Classes are held on a weekday evening for two consecutive weeks, and include dinner.
Provides a quarterly one session class for those considering membership. The single session runs for three hours and involves many lay and pastoral leaders. The class is held on Saturday, and includes light snacks.
Both churches provide experiences including an introduction to the mission and ministry of the congregation, invitations to deepen involvement (apart from or as a part of moving into membership), and opportunities for fellowship/socialization and question asking.
As someone who has helped lead at least 50 new member classes during my years in ministry, I am intrigued by the challenge presented by the irregular or infrequent opportunities to attend a class or series of classes to learn more. Neither the Saturday or the mid-week option worked out ideally for us. Between the job related travel and other commitments, either my wife or I attended two of the three sessions with us able to attend one session together.
The classes themselves are important in general and were for us. In our case, they served as final check and balance in the discernment process to help us discern if our experiences of the church in worship, through fellowship and in service align with what church leaders officially communicate is essential to prospective new members.
Have you ever attended a new member class or series of classes at a church?
- If so: What did you find most helpful? What did you feel was left out or should have been added?
- If not: Would you have welcomed this opportunity prior to joining? Explain.
Note: The image in this post is not from Church A or Church B. It is a picture I took several years back in a church affiliated with yet another denomination on the occasion of a welcome lunch.