Although most Biola students have grown up in the church, a surprising number of undergraduates (especially freshmen and sophomores) do not attend church. Students cite a variety of reasons for this, including busyness, lack of transportation, difficulty of settling into a church, receiving Bible instruction through Bible classes and required chapel attendance, and lack of depth in relationships when they attend church. Recognizing that these students do face legitimate difficulties, I created an assignment requiring them to attend the same church four times over the course of the semester and answer a series of questions about the church for the purpose of helping them think through how they should pick a new church. I’ve included the questions below. I’d love to hear any feedback on them!

  1. What is the name of the church you chose? Why did you choose that church? If you did this assignment with a friend, tell me their name here.
  2. Doctrine: Find the statement of faith of the church and read it. Did you find any areas surprising? Did you disagree with any of it? Tell me what you found most interesting concerning the content of the statement of faith of the church. Is the church connected with a denomination or group of churches?
  3. Transportation About how far away was the church from where you live? How did you get there? Was it easy to go there? Would distance be a hindrance to getting involved in the church outside Sunday morning service? 
  4. Relationships. Did the church have small groups? If so, find out how you would join one and tell me about the process. About how long would it take to join a small group? If it does not have small groups, in what ways does the church encourage deep relationships among Christians?
  5. Service: Does the church make it easy or difficult for people to serve in some capacity? Investigate various areas of service in the church and tell me two of them that sound particularly interesting to you.
  6. Preaching: Are the sermons arranged expositionally (preaching through books of the Bible) or topically? About what percentage of the sermon is usually given to explaining the biblical text? How long are the sermons? Did you enjoy the sermons? In one paragraph, summarize one of the sermons
  7. Music: Which genre of music was played at the church? ("Contemporary" and "worship" are not valid answers to this question!) Was audience participation encouraged or did it lean more towards a performance? Did the worship follow a theme each service and did the singing connect with the sermon? On average, how long was the music?
  8. Diversity: Was the church diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class?
  9. Programs: What kind of programs does the church have? Pretend you go to this church with a seven year old and your grandmother. Tell me about the programs available for each of them and for you as a college student. 
  10. Size: Approximately how many people attended the church on an average weekend? Did you find this size helpful or a hindrance? Why?
  11. Leadership: What kind of leadership does the church have (pastors and elders, or elders, or deacons, or only a senior pastor, or congregational, or some other arrangement)? Did the leaders seem like the kind of people you could go to when you were struggling? Would you trust them?
  12. Summary: In one paragraph, tell me about your favorite and least favorite parts of this church. Would you attend this church the rest of your time at Biola?