The 5 Characteristics of a Great Church

Finding a great church fit can seem a bit overwhelming, especially in a city full of churches. When you’re looking for a church to call home, you don’t want to settle for something that is less than great for you and your family.

How can you possibly pick the right one without attending every single church in the city? Even for the ones you visit, how can you tell if they’re a “great church” or not?

How to Tell a Great Church from a Bad Church

To start out, we have to realize that this is an impossible question to answer. The word “great” is a relative term, subjective to the opinion of the individual. What one person loves may be a horrible experience for another.

5 Characteristics of a Great Church

While the definition of great is up for debate, we’ve found these 5 characteristics generally make for a positive experience when visiting or attending a church regardless of where you are.

1. The People are Friendly

Nothing can replace a friendly atmosphere and loving people. A great church will be a church where you feel welcome and appreciated. Visiting a church for the first time is awkward enough without feeling like you’re intruding on some private gathering.

A friendly church always greets you with a smile, and is genuinely glad to see you. They should give the impression that they are excited to meet you, and get to know you. Church leadership should make you feel like you belong, that you’re a person of value, and that the most important thing is connecting with you.

It always feels better when you know you’re wanted rather than feeling like no one would miss you if you weren’t there.

2. A Comfortable Environment

In the summer, in Seattle especially, a lot of churches don’t have air conditioning. This may not be a big deal to most people, but in some circumstances, it can be a very unpleasant experience.

Take it from me! I’ve been in some churches where I couldn’t wait to leave so I could get one breath of fresh air. I know churches preach about a hot place, but giving you a preview is taking it a little far!

Beyond being comfortable in temperature, you also want to be in a location that feels safe, especially if you are bringing kids. This is so important!

Many people feel church is a safe place, and allow their kids to roam freely. However, there are many instances where predators take advantage of the lapse of parental attention, and have easily walked in and snatched kids from the hallways.

You need to make sure your family is safe at all times. Check out the details about the location of the facility on the church’s website and feel free to contact someone with your questions before you attend!

3. Has A Convenient Nursery

Most churches in Seattle are small in size, and a great deal have no facilities for parents with babies. Let’s face it! Babies usually don’t consider Mom or Dad’s personal schedule. Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, diapers need to be changed when the baby says so. Mom or dad may need to slip out and feed the baby, or comfort them when they get fussy.

Having a nursery is convenient for Mom and Dad, and also offers peace of mind when you bring your kids to church. You won’t have to worry that you may become the center of attention if that sweet baby decides to fuss or needs a break!

4. Welcoming, Not Pushy

At our church, as in many churches, we reserve the ending portion of the service for people who feel to seek the Lord or respond to the message. We have an altar area and always welcome people to come pray if they wish.

A great church, in my opinion, will welcome the congregation, even guests, who would like to come pray. At Refuge, we may even approach you and ask if you would like someone to pray with you. There are too many times someone has wanted to pray and left disappointed because no one was kind enough to approach them. We don’t want anyone to leave disappointed.

However, this should never be done in a pushy sort of way and, as a guest, you should never feel intimidated to comply. Going back to the first characteristic, a great church is friendly and considerate. They should give you the opportunity to get involved in the service or prayer in a way that makes you feel comfortable to either respond or decline.

5. Believes in an Experiential Jesus

This may be one characteristic we don’t think of right off the bat, but a great church will always have the anointing of God. You should be able to feel the presence of God and recognize that He is actually there.

Personally, when I attend a church that’s spiritually dead, where I can’t personally feel the presence of God, I feel like I’ve wasted my time.

When you consider how great God is, the creator of every life, color, and emotion, being in his presence should never be boring. God created our emotions, he made us to enjoy laughter. Do you think he wants us to feel like he’s on vacation when we visit his house?

A friend I recently met moved from Colombia to the U.S. in order to learn English. She wanted to get plugged into a church right away, so we offered to take her with us to one of the best Apostolic churches in the Seattle area. (

After the service, she sat on the chair next to me and cried as she told me that, even though she didn’t understand what was being said, she felt the power of God! She said it was so special to know that He was there and she could feel Him even when she didn’t comprehend the songs or preaching.

You can’t discount the importance of knowing that when you’re at church, God is going to be there too! Why else would we go to church?

If you’ve found a church that preaches the Bible and believes that Jesus is just as powerful today as He was back then, you should be able to feel it!

Finding a Great Church for You

AC/Heat or nurseries are a great thing to have in a church, however, having them doesn’t guarantee that a church is worthy of the label “great.” Neither does not having them.

Regardless of my opinion, it really depends on what characteristics of a church are most important to you!

These are just some of the things we’ve found people prefer, especially when looking for a new church to call home.

What are some characteristics of churches you like most?

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