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MK Education North America USA - Other

MKs in America

"The biggest obstacle to overcome in my search for a church was my own ignorance of what church life is like in America. I had no idea what to look for in a church."

When I prepared to come to the States for college after a lifetime overseas, finding a church to attend was the least of my worries. I was moving to a town that reportedly has one of the highest rates of churches per capita in the world, and it never occurred to me that finding one would be an issue. So I prepared for what I considered to be the big transitions: culture shock, college life, being an adult in general. I was unprepared, however, for the struggle to find a church community. For the first time in my life, I had almost limitless choice of denomination, of size, of language. Rather than feeling free to choose, I felt lost.

The biggest obstacle to overcome in my search for a church was my own ignorance of what church life is like in America. I had no idea what to look for in a church. I went to a few at first with friends, but eventually I was scared off by the unfamiliar structure and organization of it all. Months went by when I didn’t go to church at all, under the excuse of having too much homework to do. In reality, I was uncomfortable in an American church and I didn’t want to put the energy into visiting one church after another to find a good fit. To make matters worse, the stress of the search settled into a negative attitude toward the American church in general.

Fed up with the church-hopping, and feeling the lack of a church community, I decided that if I was to progress I would have to stop my nit-picking and decide what was truly important in a church. If you are an MK (missionary kid) who is struggling with fitting into the American church scene, don’t give up just yet! Here are three things to look for in a church, a list that I came up with the help of other MKs who have dealt with similar struggles (and there are far more of us than I expected).

Tips for Missionary Kids Looking for a Church in America

Look for a church that agrees with what you know to be true about God. Does your church focus on unity in Christ and a loving desire to share his grace with others? If so, then it’s probably a good choice.

Look for a small church. Especially if you come from a house church situation overseas, you may feel overwhelmed with the large, structured organization of many churches in America. I have found smaller churches to not only be more welcoming, but also to have a stronger sense of unity in worship.

Look for a missions-minded church. Though missions is a core part of Jesus’ message, many churches never look outside their own walls. Do a little observation: is the church missions program based on a strong, biblical model? This should be taken into account especially for someone who has a background in ministry.

Parents, if you’re currently sending your kids out into the unfamiliar “homeland,” you’re hopefully becoming familiar with the process of preparing them for the life of a new adult. I’m more than grateful to my own parents for their love and thoughtfulness in preparation. Please discuss these things with your kids both before they move out and as they make the transition. It will smooth the transition more than you could imagine. This is a time of change for both you and your kid, and preparation and support are the best things you can offer as a parent.

I hope these words encourage you, whether you are an MK searching in vain for community, or a parent trying to best prepare their kid for the life ahead. God bless!

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