The thoughts on this page are directed to those who are looking for a new Church Home. They are simply personal reflections by the Webmaster, who hopes you'll find at least a few of these suggestions helpful.
For some people, finding a new place to worship is not that difficult — especially if they wish to remain members of their same denomination. Those who are active Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Unitarians or Christian Scientists are usually interested in finding another congregation within their denomination. In the Massillon area, this often limits their choices to a single church.
However, if you are a member of a Catholic or mainline Protestant church, you may have lots of options. So what to do?
Start by making a list of churches you want to "check out." This may include churches in your current denomination; it could include churches attended by friends and co-workers; it should probably also include churches that are located close to your home. MassillonChurches.com is a good resource here. The information contained within this Web Site is designed to help you in your search.
Churches either get bigger, or they slowly dwindle away. If this church still fits in the same building it did 150 years ago, it must not have much of an active, local ministry. Now for some people, this may be exactly what they want. But if you are looking to worship with a dynamic congregation, it's best to approach non-growing churches cautiously.
Please consider this first suggestion very carefully: When making your list of potential churches, only include those that appear active. How do you do this? Unlike a book, sometimes you can tell a church by its cover. When you drive by, are the facilities in good repair? Are the grounds well-maintained? Do you ever see cars in their parking lot? Does it appear there are actitivites at times other than on Sunday morning? Things like this can reveal how active a church really is.
After you've made your list of potential churches, go for a visit. Take a church from your list; go to a couple of their services and talk to some of their members. Get a feeling for what this church is really all about.
When attending a new church's services for the first time, keep in mind that churches are a little bit like people — they have good days, and not-so-good ones. So if you did not feel welcome on your first visit, or if the service was not to your liking — give it another chance. Now if, after several visits, you still don't feel comfortable — move on. You haven't found the right church yet.
If you still have interest and would like more information about the church, schedule a meeting with their Pastor; Pastors are always happy to meet with prospective members. For some large churches you may have to have this meeting with an Associate Pastor, but if at all possible meet with the Head Pastor. Do this in person — not by email, fax, mail or some other indirect method. Explain your church background, if any, so the Pastor has some idea of where you are coming from. Ask whatever questions are important to you, but don't "grill" the Pastor — especially of theological issues. Remember you are there for information, not to tout your beliefs. When you leave this meeeting, you should have a pretty good idea if this church is a good fit for you or not.
As you visit various churches, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you comfortable with their Beliefs and Doctrines?
Every church should have a printed statement of their beliefs. If they don't have one, or won't provide you with a copy, be wary. Sometimes churches that have Web Sites will place this information on the Internet. If you have a specific area where you have strong feelings — divorce, tithing, alcoholic beverages — do not be afraid to ask what the church's position is on the matter. This is important because sometimes individual churches will have beliefs considerably different from the denomination with which they are affiliated.
- Does the worship style allow you to fully express
your worship to God?
There are several basic styles of worship services: There is liturgical — highly-formalized, structured and majestic, using devotions and liturgies that sometimes have been in place for generations, with music and instruments that you normally associate with a formalized church service. A typical Catholic mass is an example of a liturgucal service. Then there's traditional — less-formal, usually including congregational singing of hymns and a sermon or other devotional. Most mainstream Protestant Churches have at least one Sunday traditional service. Finally there's contemporary — which typically includes messages and modern Christian music, even live bands, geared toward youth and young adults. One style is certainly not better than another, but one style may be more appropriate for you — one style with which you are the most comfortable. Many churches have several services — each in a different style. The 'Church Finder' on our Home Page can help you find churches that have specific styles of worship.
- Do they have programs, services and activities that cater to the age groups in
One of the quickest ways to lose interest in a church is to find there's no one else in your age group with whom you can relate. If you have children and teenagers, make sure the church has a well-attended Children's Sunday School and an active Youth ministry. If you have a baby, is there a fully-staffed nursery available during services? Attending Church should be a family event. And a good church should be a 'fit' for every member of your family.
- Do you feel you could go to the Pastor or one of his staff to talk about a personal
Is there a genuine interest in providing personal, spiritual help? Does the Pastor seem sincere, approachable, and worthy of respect? Do you get the feeling that confidential matters would remain that way?
- Are you comfortable with the Congregation?
Do you feel at home when attending Services? Are you comfortable with the standard of dress? Are the members warm and friendly to visitors? Is this a group of people with whom you can relate and with whom you can become friends?
- Is the church close enough to allow you to be as active as you would like?
If you plan on being very active in your new church, perhaps one that is 15 or 20 miles away is not the best choice. Ohio winters can be snowy and icy. We've already seen $4.00+/gallon gasoline. While you do not need to live next door to the church building, the closer you live to your place of worship, the easier it will be to participate in their services and activities.
When looking for a new church, remember, God has a place for you
to worship. It will have a congregation with whom you feel comfortable. It
will be committed to your spiritual growth and needs. It will provide
opportunities for you to serve and to help others. And while it may take some time for you to locate the right church,
once you've found it, you'll know that you're in the right place.
Thank you for allowingMassillonChurches.com to be a tool in your church selection process.