by Chris Lieberman copy editor
For my first two months at Moody, my worst homesickness always came on Sundays. I had quickly found friends on campus and loved school and city life, yet each Sunday I would long for the fellowship of my church back home. As I sojourned from congregation to congregation, I desired to find that same level of spiritual connection that I had back in Philadelphia. Such is the experience of many students who come to Moody.
There are a great variety of church experiences among the many incoming students. Some, as I did, grew up in excellent churches their whole lives and long to discover that same sense of fellowship here in Chicago. Others may have travelled from one church to another throughout their past, never finding one place to call home. No doubt some have had painful church experiences and are hesitant to try to find a place of worship here in the city. No matter what your story is, it is important that every Moody student find a local church where he or she can get involved.
In addition to being biblically mandated, joining a church is invaluable for your spiritual health. Moody is a great community, but it is no substitute for a church. Churches offer pastoral oversight and accountability, age diversity and opportunities to serve that you cannot find at Moody. Unfortunately, many Moody students miss the wonderful opportunity to be involved in a local church here in Chicago. Do not rob yourself of the chance to grow spiritually in a church context.
Now, the church search process can be overwhelming. There is no science or formula to finding the right church, but there are several things that can help you in your search. First, consider what you are looking for in a church. Are specific doctrines, congregation size, worship style or distance important to you? If you know what you are looking for, it can help narrow down the field of churches to check out.
At the same time, make sure you are flexible. While some things may be deal-breakers, be sure to differentiate mere preferences from what is important to look for in a church. Someone who is interested in youth ministry should probably look for a church with a developed youth group, for instance. However, it is unlikely that you will find a church exactly how you want it to be. Be willing to try something new
Third, go to churches with a friend. Many of the upperclassmen would love to take you to their church or at least tell you what it is like. If you hear about a church, ask around and see if any other students have tried and enjoyed that church. Take advantage of the church hunts those who have gone before you have done. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Finally, do not expect your church here in Chicago to be exactly like your church back home, because no two churches are exactly alike. I spent far too long expecting other churches to be like mine. The church you pick in the city may be very different from back home, and that is fine. The quicker you learn not to expect your Chicago home to be the same, the quicker you will be able to enjoy your new church family here in the city.