Moving to a new church can be a scary, uncomfortable process. There are many reasons you might be facing a switch, whether you’re attending church for the first time, finding a church in a new city, or leaving a place that doesn’t honor God the way it should. It doesn’t necessarily make a difference if the new church is big or small, traditional or contemporary—it’s normal to feel a little out of place at first.
Are you looking for steps to make your transition smoother? If you move outside your comfort zone and invest in getting involved, you can avoid some of those lonely feelings and fit into the congregation in no time.
Here are eight ways you can quickly fit in at your new church:
Visit the new church regularly, even when you don't feel like it
How: Choose not to make excuses. Decide now that you’re going to show up every week, no matter what your mood is.
Why: Showing up is the best way to make connections and form a routine. If you don’t make the new church a regular part of your life, it’s never going to feel like a regular part of your life. If you go every week, whether you feel like it or not, you’ll get adjusted much more quickly.
Talk to the people you know
How: When you see people you know at church, approach them. Whether it’s the friend who first invited you or the greeter you met this morning, go say hello. Take the initiative to find out how they’re doing.
Why: Fitting in and making connections goes faster when there’s effort on your part. You might still feel out of place at first, but that’s not how others see you! People are happy when you think of them, and it lets you deepen relationships more quickly. You’ll also likely find that other people are truly happy to have you there.
Talk to the people you don’t know
How: Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you during the service or strike up a conversation over coffee.
Why: Don’t just assume that the person next to you isn’t interested in meeting you. They might be another new attendee who would welcome the connection. They could also be a long-time church member who would love to get to know you but is insecure in what they have to offer. Being new at a church doesn’t mean you can’t be the one to reach out!
Get involved in a smaller group
How: Find a Sunday school class, Bible study, or small group, and get plugged in.
Why: Getting involved in a smaller group lets you have a voice and be a part of a closer community. If your new church is a bigger church, the size can be intimidating; it’s always easier to start small. Smaller groups also often provide the opportunity to dig deeper into God’s Word.
Visit the Welcome Desk in our church lobby to fill out a small group interest form!
Talk to the leadership at this new church
How: Approach the pastor or other leaders in between services to introduce yourself.
Why: Pastors, elders, and other church leaders really do want to get to know the people they’re serving. Introducing yourself helps them put your name and face together and gives you the chance to ask questions, set up a time to chat and get a feel for their ministry and vision.
Visit our staff page to connect with one of the church leaders at First Evangelical Free Church. www.firstefc.org/staff
Participate in events
How: When there are special gatherings, meals, or parties, attend them.
Why: Church is about community, not just about sitting in pews. Most churches make an effort to have the occasional fellowship meal, holiday party, or other special gathering. If the invitation is open, accept it! This is a great way to have fun and get to know people in a friendly, pressure-free setting.
If you regularly attend First Free, create a profile on our private, online church website, The City, to be notified of church events and how to participate.
Find ways you can give
How: Look for needs in the church that match your talents and interests. If there is an open opportunity in that area, offer your time and abilities.
Why: The Church is the Body of Christ, and God has given us gifts so that we can help and encourage each other (1 Corinthians 12). Are you good with music? Join the choir or worship team. Do you love kids? Serve in children’s ministry. Help with special meals, write an article for the blog, or join a hands-on service project; God can use whatever you have to offer. One of the best ways to fit in at a new church is to find the place you’re needed.
Give it time
How: Be patient with yourself and your new community. Don’t expect to feel comfortable overnight.
Why: Any relationship worth having takes time and commitment to build. The fellowship of a church family is no exception to this rule! As you find ways to use the first seven steps, accept that it might take a little while before church feels like home. Time is an important piece of the puzzle, so commit now for the long haul.
Taking the plunge
Everyone’s journey to fitting in at a new church is going to look different. For my younger sister, the transition to First Free was a smooth one—she made the switch in college, and she was able to connect right away with the college group, choir and children’s ministry.
For me, the adjustment was a little scarier. I was moving from a tiny church to a large church while juggling multiple jobs, so I wasn’t able to commit time to the same sorts of activities. I had to follow some of the steps above to make it work—showing up, giving myself time, and participating in smaller classes and events. It has paid off—after six months, I really feel like I have a place here, and I’ve formed relationships that I enjoy seeing grow.
Maybe you’re happy with your church home. That’s great! Bookmark this list for a day when things change, or share it with a friend who’s at a transition point. If you find yourself at First Free for the first time, look me up—I’d love to share more about how I’m learning to fit in and help you feel at home as well.
About the author
Elizabeth Buege graduated from the University of Northwestern—St. Paul with a B.A. in English Writing. She works as a freelance book editor, offering writing and editing tips alongside her services at www.elizabethbuege.com. She also teaches weekly writing classes as the secondary writing tutor for the ESCHEL homeschool co-op in Oakdale, MN.
When Elizabeth isn’t working, you can probably find her reading or writing for fun. She also loves gardening, cooking, exploring parks, and hanging out with big dogs and small children. She attends First Free in Maplewood and is thankful to have found such strong fellowship so close to home.