Finding a New Church in a New Home

Moving isn’t easy for anyone.  It’s stressful, uncertain, and full of change.  You’re forced to make new friends, make a new routine, start a new job, and you may be away from family for the first real time in your life.  When I first came to Pittsburgh for school, leaving my hometown behind, I felt lost.  I was 5 hours away from home and I wasn’t sure who I really was on my own.  My faith was shaky.  That first year, and even every year since has been time of adjustment.

finding a church

My story

The first week I arrived, before classes began, I walked around campus mapping out where my classes were and how long it took to get to each.  Pittsburgh is full old, quaint, catholic style churches.  As I was walking, I saw a table set up outside a Baptist church – the Christian denomination I had grown up with.  There were three people sitting there, all happy with smiles ear-to-ear.  I stopped to get a brochure and remember one of the ladies to this day – Vicky.  Vicky was short, outgoing, kind, and so inclusive!  She made me feel welcome and at home.  I asked about the pastor and they said they were currently in-between pastors right now and a woman was leading the messages at this time.  After talking with my mother and grandmother about it, I decided against going to that church because my family and I felt that a woman’s role was not head pastor.  The next week, a friend I had met and I planned to go to a Presbyterian church which was right on campus.  We went and everyone was very outgoing.  It was a huge church, with a lot of people all trying to be inclusive, which was great…but, my social anxiety was in full swing and while my friend went back week after week, I steered clear.  A few months passed.  I reached out to my grandmother who asked out pastor for recommendations in Pittsburgh.  He gave one which was a half hour drive or an hour plus bus ride away.  Mind you, I am a college student with access to the public bus system and nothing more.  That option was out and a few more months passed.

I turned to google.  I searched for Baptist churches in the area and found myself turning back to the church with the table on the side of the street.  I went to my first service just about a year ago with a friend in tow to help me through it, despite my social anxiety.  Something there just felt right again.  It was a much smaller church and the people were just as friendly so the church felt much more welcoming.  They invited me to stay after for coffee and a little spread and I did.  I went back week after week for the semester.  I started going to Wednesday night Bible studies and monthly Saturday Women’s group.  I had found my church home.

Finding a church

It isn’t easy to find where you belong when you’re in a new city.  It especially isn’t easy when you’re moving to a new place with an already lost faith and you’re trying to reconnect with God.  I want to help you find a church that suits you so that hopefully it will be easier for you than it was for me.  First, turn to google.  Search for the kind of church you’re looking for and find some in the area that you can get to.  Next, try it on for size.  Go to Sunday service at the churches you’ve found over the next couple weeks.  If you find a church which feels like home to you, stick with it.  Don’t be afraid to “settle”.  Trust the Lord is calling you home.  You will know when you’ve found a place that you fit in with.  If the service doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct.  Don’t give up hope on finding a place where you feel comfortable and welcome.

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