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The absolute best decision I made in college really had nothing to do with college. That decision was getting plugged-in to a local church. I really didn’t make the decision of my own volition, as two of my siblings went to the same college and same church years before I ever arrived in town, but it still proved to be a very important part of my life. When I arrived in Auburn, I knew that I would only be living there for two years, so I felt like I didn’t really have time to waste when it came to involvement. I began working toward academic and extracurricular goals the year before I moved, and in a way, I began building relationships in my church then too.
As I mentioned, two of my siblings went to this church before me, so I had visited it on several occasions before I moved to town, so I felt pretty comfortable jumping right into the rhythm of their college ministry. Even though I only went to this church for 2 years (really only 4 semesters) I learned a lot about the importance of having a local church – even when I knew I wouldn’t be staying long.
Now those lessons have carried over into my life as a military spouse and I know that they will continue to be important for me to remember as we continue to move to wherever the Lord and the Army conspire to send us.
So here are my top 3 reasons to get involved in a local church – especially if you won’t be living in one place for very long:
1. Accountability is Key.
It’s sooooo easy to become lazy if you have no outside accountability.
I’m a relatively self-disciplined person, but when there’s no one else around to notice my efforts, I’m much more likely to slack off. This can apply to many areas of life, but it is particularly important in the issue of faith.
If you aren’t committed to a church, how will the church know you are committed to God?
Being a part of a local church makes you accountable to that local church. If you commit to serving in the nursery and don’t show up, someone will notice. If you are a regular at Bible study, but skip a few Sundays, someone will check on you. And for me, if I’m working through a bible study with a group, I’m much more likely to keep up and actually do the homework than if I’m going through it at my own pace.
Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…”
2. Community is Essential.
The church is a great place to build friendships with likeminded people. When you move around a lot, it can be difficult to build meaningful relationships, but the church can be a solid foundation for you to build friendships off of.
That being said, the church can be a very diverse place, which is part of its strength. The church body is made up of many parts, each one different, but still part of the whole.
For the most part, my friends tend to all be very similar to me. We are typically in the same age group, many of them are other army wives, and of course, we have common interests. These are all good things, but sometimes I need a more diverse perspective in my life, and the church can provide that.
By being a part of a local church I’m able to receive guidance from older women, seek to mentor younger girls, and my husband and I have many older couples that we can look up to. All of these relationships give use a well-rounded community in our church.
Galations 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
3. Local Churches are Local.
This point seems really obvious, but when you are in a new place it’s very comforting to feel like you are a part of an established community. While the first two points are reasons local churches are important to anyone, I think that this third point is really important for military families and others who move around a lot, or are just living somewhere temporarily.
I’ve never been a member of a military chapel, so I can’t speak for or against them. But, I have been a member of a local church, and I can tell you that it has been a blessing in my life, not only for the community and accountability but also simply for the fact that it is local.
When you’re in a new place, it can be very overwhelming to learn all the ins and outs. Others who have been in your shoes can be a huge help in the adjustment phase, but it is also incredibly helpful, and comforting, to know people who feel totally at home in your new town.
This is where a local church comes in. If you’re a military family (or a student in a new place) you may easily make friends with other military families (or students) who are new to the area. But it can be much harder to meet and make friends with people who are already established in the community. Churches are a great way to become part of the local climate.
Meeting people who are native the the area you’re transplanted into can really help you to adjust to a new place – they can give you the inside scoop on the best place to get your oil changed, the best burger in town, or their favorite day trips.
A local church can be a great resource to plug you into local networks, whether that means simply making friends, going to a bible study, or volunteering with a ministry that is close to your heart.
A great, bible-believing, Christian church is the best place to jumpstart your new life in a new place, whether you’ll be staying for a year, 10 years, or 50 years.
How do you get involved in a community after moving to a new place? What’s your advice for people who move around a lot?