Students pursue a home church

Research shows that people looking for a new church search for quality of sermons and warm welcomes.

Infographic+by+Tony+Flores%2F+THE+CHIMES

Infographic by Tony Flores/ THE CHIMES

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

People of faith who move to new locations, such as Biola students starting a new semester, often desire to find a new church.

Pew Research Center conducted a survey which showed one-third of adults look for a new home church because they have moved to a new area, the case for most of Biola’s students. This study also shows that 83 percent of Americans find the quality of sermons to be most important, while 79 percent look for churches where they feel welcomed by the leaders.

David Dirmann, senior associate pastor of The Rock in Anaheim, CA, seems to agree that most adults looking for a church are doing so because of relocation or a change in life.

New Seasons of Life

“From what I’ve seen, many students have either recently moved away from home or they are stepping out into a new season of life,” Dirmann said in an email. “A church becomes a place of safety, a place of belonging, and a place they can feel like they are home.”   

Matthew Schraeder, senior business major and attendee of Calvary Community Church of Brea, looks for good leadership, one of the qualities noted in the survey, and good structure in a church.

Church, Not Chapel

Another study done by Pew shows that 48 percent of people look for a church where they have family or friends. Schraeder believes these characteristics are one of the reasons it is important to go to church.  

“Chapels here [at Biola] are great, but you don’t have the community at the chapels like at the church.  I feel like it’s important to have that,” Schraeder said.

Many Biola students do not look for a church because they feel Biola takes the place of one, but Biola is a parachurch organization, not a church, said Erik Thoennes, chair of Biblical and theological studies department and elder at Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada.

Thoennes and Dirmann hope students will attend local churches to serve alongside them, rather than expect to be served.

Though the Rock does not tailor their church services to fit the young adult’s life during the season when semesters are begining, they do begin a new series for those entering a new phase of life.

“At the beginning of the fall and spring, we do begin a new teaching series geared towards the new seasons that believers are stepping into,” Dirmann said in an email.

Service Over Comfort

Another part of the issue in looking for churches is what Americans tend to look for. They expect to receive a warm welcome rather than thinking about how they can serve.

“My prayer is that students will go to local churches to be a blessing, to serve, yes, to be fed and cared for, but also to be a blessing and to serve with all that amazing youthful energy and training you’re getting at Biola,” Thoennes said.

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