An Important Factor If You’re Thinking About Moving

Americans move all the time. Census data suggests that the average person will relocate approximately twelve times in his or her life, with about nine of those moves coming after the age of 18. And given our semi-itinerant tendencies, it makes sense to think through what makes the decision to move a wise one.

Many of the variables to consider are relatively obvious. How good of an opportunity is that new job? Can you afford the rent or mortgage in the new location? If you own a house, what will it take to sell it? If you’re a parent, what are the schools like where your family is going? If you’re a college student, what kind of education will you get at a prospective school? How far will you be from your family? And so on.

In my experience, however, one factor that often gets overlooked is the impact a move will have on your spiritual life. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when you’re thinking about moving.

Don’t underestimate the value of a good church.

In the end, there’s absolutely nothing more important for you or those you love than trusting in and following Jesus. And doing so over the long haul normally means being involved in a good church. Consequently, if you’re currently blessed with a church that honors Christ, faithfully teaches the biblical gospel and its ramifications for all of life, and provides a community of relationships that are mutually encouraging, that’s not something to give up lightly. It may in fact make a lot of sense to turn down more money, a better house, a more prestigious education, etc., the sake of your spiritual health and maturity.

So if you’re thinking about moving, you’ll want to research potential churches before making the decision. I wish Christians could automatically assume they’ll find a vibrant church community wherever they might go, but that’s not necessarily the case. It is possible, however, to learn a good deal about a church from its website—often including its statement of beliefs, ministry values and philosophy, the kinds resources, community, and service opportunities it offers, etc. You can also certainly call for more information and to ask any further questions you might have. If possible, you might even consider visiting churches you think might be a good fit. What you learn from your research could turn out to be an important consideration in whether you decide to move.

On the other hand, realize that God isn’t limited to working in your life through your present church.

Over the years at The Crossing, people who are moving or considering doing the same have often told me they’re concerned about finding a good church. I find that encouraging since it generally means that (a) The Crossing has been a good place for them spiritually, and (b) they’re thinking along the lines of the first point above.

But one of the things I often say in those conversations is that we’d be incredibly foolish to think that The Crossing is the only place where God is at work, as if he were some kind of tribal deity (“Our god is god of the mountains, not the plains!”). The same point holds true for anyone who is currently blessed with a good church home.

Keeping this in mind will often make it easier to consider moves that do make sense. It other words, it will keep you from limiting yourself to finding your last church—which will always be a fruitless search. Instead, you’ll concentrate on looking for a healthy, if different, church community.

Make your decision in community.

If you’re someone who’s currently plugged into a thriving spiritual community, it only makes sense that you lean on those around you in making your decision to move. Odds are good that the people who care about you (a Bible study leader, a pastor, other friends and mentors) will have some wisdom and perspective to bring to bear on the relevant questions. Why not ask them to help you think through such an important decision?

 

(My thanks to this post from Deepak Reju at The Gospel Coalition for sparking some of the thoughts above.)

One Comment

  1. Aaron Oelger said:

    Great post, Nathan. If I didn’t trust his discretion implicitly, I’d swear you must have had a conversation with one of the other pastors about us. We moved from CoMo to Kansas City in summer 2012 for a new job. We labored over the decision as a couple, but after a lot of prayer, accepted the job and moved.

    Three years later, we have a significant amount time invested in finding a new church home, but little success to show for it yet. Our original thinking before we moved was The Crossing sets a high bar, but God is moving in a lot of churches in KC. How hard could it be to find a new church home, right? However, we haven’t found the right one yet. We’ve followed the process you laid out below – spent time researching churches online, visiting churches in person, going through church introduction classes and even trying to form relationships in several, but no concrete direction/decisions.

    We like the area (Cass County), our neighbors and our jobs (a lot), but it isn’t home yet. We miss friends back home, our small group and worship at The Crossing. Since we’re fairly close, we’re back in town quite a bit, but it’s not the same as living there. On the plus side, the digital outreach (sermon podcasts, EntryPoint emails, ESI blog and tweets from staff) have all played factors in keeping us plugged in.

    Maybe someday God will bring us back, but your post is great advice for anyone considering a move away from CoMo and/or The Crossing.

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