How to Find Your Best Fit Whether you grew up going to church twice on Sundays or never set foot in a church at all, finding and sinking your roots into a church community is crucial to your spiritual well-being. Finding the right church home can be a huge challenge, and also a lot of fun. Kevin and Sherry Harney point out that, while no church is perfect, some will fit you better than others. They show what a healthy church looks like, how to handle hot issues facing churches today, and how to determine whether a church’s unique worship style will inspire or distract you. Even better, the Harneys help you discover how to plug into a church and experience the joy of giving back. In the words of the authors, “Church can be one of the most joy-filled, life-giving experiences you will ever have.” Practical, encouraging, and true to the Bible, this book is your road map to finding a spiritual community you can really love.
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Kevin G. Harney (kevingharney.com) serves at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, California. He is the author of many books and studies, including Organic Outreach for Ordinary People, Seismic Shifts, and Reckless Faith.
Sherry Harney (sherryharney.com) has served as a children’s ministry director and a women’s ministry director, and is the author of more than sixty small-group Bible studies. One of her greatest passions is investing in the next generation of women in the church.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this book to us in care of firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Preface THIS BOOKWAS DESIGNED TO BE USER FRIENDLY. It is a tool to help you through the process of finding a church you can really love.We have done a few things to make this resource helpful and easy to use. We have kept the chapters short.We have tried to keep each chapter as brief as possible, while still covering the most important information. Our goal is to keep your reading to a minimum so that you can devote most of your time to reflection and to taking action in finding a church you can love and loving the church you have found. We have sought to keep it practical. Being practical has been our goal each step of the way as we have written this book. You will find that each of the brief chapters ends with some kind of practical application.We have presented many ideas for personal reflection, additional study, and actions you can take in your journey of finding your way into active participation in the church, Christ's family. We have provided opportunities for personal reflection. Each chapter has some closing questions that will help you go a little deeper into the content of the chapter.We have worded these questions so that they will be useful whether you are looking for a church as an individual, as a couple, or as a family. Individuals may use these questions for personal reflection, while couples and families can use them for discussion. How to use this book to your advantage. There are two ways you can use this book. First, you can begin on page one and walk though the process of becoming part of a church from beginning to end, using the exercises to help you each step of the way. This approach will allow you to think through the whole process in a clear and systematic way. Or you may want to read only the chapters that connect with your felt needs and apply to where you are in your church-search journey. This book is designed to be a tool that anyone can use, regardless of background. If you have never set foot in a church, have no religious heritage, and don't have any idea how to take the first step, this book is for you. If you have been in the church since the day you were born and have always been an active part of God's family but now feel the need to find a new church, this book will be a great help to you also. No matter where you start, this book will serve as a road map to help you make sense of your journey as you seek to find a church you can love and to love the church you've found. Introduction Kevin's Story My only memory of church from my early childhood is of an experience that ended in tragedy. I have hazy pictures in my mind of one Sunday morning many years ago. Hard wooden benches.A cross on the wall, with a man hanging by nails driven through his hands and feet.A young boy with a crew cut and very uncomfortable clothes.The feeling that it would never end. I remember getting out of my seat and wandering off. Like the swallows of Capistrano, I headed instinctively toward the place where I had seen punch and cookies as we had entered earlier.The surface of the counter was just above my head,but this would not stop my young hands from grasping the prize of freshly baked cookies. I had to satisfy my growling stomach, and the answer was just inches above my line of sight. I took hold of the counter's edge and began to pull myself up, certain that I was only inches from mounds of snacks and rivers of punch loaded with sugar and red dye number five. I immediately realized something was wrong. Instead of pulling myself up to behold the treats my taste buds longed for, I felt the entire counter began to move. It was falling toward---or more precisely, on---me. If this was to be the end of my young life, what better way to die than under a mountain of cookies! I did not die. I also was not buried under a pile of cookies.My swallowlike instincts had led me to the place of cookies and punch, but I had failed to take note of one important detail: it was also the place where they had just poured many cups of scalding coffee. I remember my back hitting the floor, the counter landing on my chest, and a wave of coffee, punch, and cookies cascading over my face. I don't remember ever attending church again as a young boy. Sherry and I come from dramatically different backgrounds. I was the bad boy, the teacher's nightmare, a non-church-attending beach bum from southern California. Sherry was a good girl, a hard-working student, a twice-a-Sunday-and-Wednesday-night church attender from a small town in western Michigan. In many ways her life experience was the opposite of mine. Sherry's Story For me, church and life were inextricably intertwined. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are of the days I could walk to church with my father. Church was the place where family gathered, friends played, and the teaching of the Bible helped make sense of life's toughest problems.The only trouble I would get in at church was when my whole family was sitting in the car waiting to go home and I was still inside talking with other church members. Come to think of it, there are still many Sundays when I am the last one to leave the church building. Yet with all of my fine church training, I kept a secret hidden in my heart, a secret that I did not dare tell my family and friends. When I thought about it, I felt uncomfortable, so I remained silent for many, many years. People would laugh at me, I thought to myself.They would never understand. My secret would stay just that, a secret! What was my hidden dream? I wanted to marry a pastor! I so loved the church and had such deep respect for my pastor's wife that my heart's desire was to one day marry a pastor and spend my life helping people discover the joys of knowing Jesus and the satisfaction of being part of a healthy Christian church. When Worlds Collide Sherry and I are still very different. She always dreamed of being a pastor's wife. I never, in my wildest imagination, dreamed of being a pastor.Yet by the grace of God, we have both discovered the incredible joy of being part of the church. Sherry was born into the church family. I came as a troubled outsider who has been lovingly adopted. Both of us have learned that there are many churches we can really love and that there are many wonderful churches that will love us back. The Big Picture Since you are holding this book in your hands, it means one of two things has happened:You have taken the time to pick up a book whose express goal is to help you find a church you can love. Or someone who cares deeply about you has taken the time to buy this book and give it to you as a gift. However this book has ended up in your hands,we believe it is not a coincidence. In the pages that follow,we want to offer you practical and fun tools for finding a church you can really love.We will do this by walking through the process with you. In part 1 of this book,we have attempted to present a clear picture of a healthy, biblical church. God calls the church his bride, and he loves the church as a groom loves his radiant bride.We need to see the church through his eyes. Part 2 will help you discover how to connect with the church that is right for you. In a family, we know that people are different, and we need to learn how to get along with each other. But as you seek to find a church family, it is critical that you find the right fit. Part 3 will help you discover how you can love the church you've found.We will also discuss how you can find your place in the church. Just as every part of a physical body has an important function, you will have an important role to play in your new church. Not only will you receive from your new church, but you will also have the joy of giving back.
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