As a PK (Pastors' Kid), our family never struggled finding a church or even really debating religion during my growing up, outside of my dad re-locating to different churches. Religion itself is a huge topic I could write a book about, but I'm going to focus on my experiences "church shopping" after leaving my fathers' nest.
First of all, I am picky. For 18 years, I listened to my dad's sermons, memorized every word in the service, and learned many songs. Quite frankly, I never thought much about what I was going to do when I left home and when I did think about it, of course, as a kid, I looked forward to it. However, I quickly learned that I was picky when it came to finding a church which resulted in me not wanting to go. So, let's get to it....What I'm picky about....
1- The pastor & his sermon
Obviously, I think my dad is the best pastor there is, but realistically there are a few reasons why. I like sermons that relate to me. If it only targets one group of people, I lose interest. I like pastors who use illustrations and talk more than preach. I feel very uncomfortable when a pastor starts yelling. I also think a 15-20 min sermon is good length to keep my quality interest.
2- The order of service
Not literally the order of what happens throughout worship, but the actual readings. Example, I have the Lord's Prayer memorized so when they change up the wording to be "Our Father in heaven..." rather than "Our Father who art in heaven..." it bothers me. I'm not saying one way is more right than the other, but when I'm trying to focus on my confessions and instead thinking about grammar, it loses meaning.
I don't like being forced to kneel on the church floor, or raising my hands, or drinking from a common cup. It's hard enough for me to greet people that early on a Sunday morning. It's just my personal preference and again detracts from the reason I'm there. It doesn't make me any more or less Christian than the person next to me doing all of that.
I am not a good singer, but I enjoy singing in church, especially when the organ drowns my measly voice. However, when you have a church full of singers who likely aren't taking choir lessons, trying to coordinate 80 people singing an advanced hymn is like giving a toddler a violin. Songs with a bunch of eighth notes and rests and highly varied note ranges are very hard to keep up with. Again, I'm not trying to become a better singer, I'm trying to worship God.
I think this touches on my main church shopping criteria...I don't mean to be picky, it just means much more to me when I don't have to think about all those little things and can focus on the only thing that matters.
Going to church I'd say is similar to working out. Maybe it's not easy to start, and you can make all the excuses in the world not to go, but it's good for you and the hardest part is the first step.
Have you thanked God today?