When Steve and I first moved to Lima, we immediately started looking for a church. We know that if you put this off, it just gets harder and harder to look later on. Since moving in December, we have visited over 6 different churches. Since we've done lots of Indiana visits as well as hosting visitors on the weekends, we haven't been consistent with church searching.
In our Lima church experiences, we have discovered that there are soooo many options! Lima offers many different denominations and styles. But because there are so many churches, the size of the churches tend to be small. For instance, two of the churches we went to had less than 50 people in the service. On first visits, I don't like to fill out the "visitor" cards; however, in smaller churches, you get pegged as new right away. In a couple of them, we were cornered and had to fill out the cards. One of the churches (which the average age in the room was 55+) sent us a letter the week of our visit. A few weeks later, the pastor even stopped by our house to offer any help (he new we were new to the area) and invite us to visit again. Due to the age of the church members, we can't really see ourselves returning; however, God is the driver in this search and we don't know yet where we'll end up.
Steve and I tend to line up with a Baptist/Presbyterian denomination due to our upbringings. The church we joined in TN was non-denominational (even though it would have been labeled as Baptist/Presbyterian by it's constitution). It was also big, involving 2 services and a separate buildings for children ministries and youth ministries. The size of the church is not a high criteria on our search list; however, we are hoping to find a church were we can make friends and find people that understand our stage in life.
There were a few weeks in the beginning of February that we were pretty down on the process. It just seemed like the churches we were picking tended to be really small, consist of older people, or have a worship service lacking in, well, worship. We would visit the churches and feel out of place. We kept reminiscing on our first experience at Fellowship Jackson. On our first visit, we just felt at home. Previous to finding the church there, I had thought it would be easy to leave TN; however, it's hard to leave a church like that. In the short time we were there, we got involved in different ministries and Bible studies and just felt like part of the family. Fellowship Jackson set a pretty high bar for our new church, which makes the church search process here in Lima all the harder.
However, there was a change in events in the middle of February! During our sicknesses, we decided to stay home on a Sunday and came across a church broadcast on the television (remember, we no longer have cable or satellite and only get local channels + basic networks like ABC, CBS. . . ). We watched the pastor speak and could see the church was bigger than what we had been visiting. On our next Sunday, we were able to visit the church. We didn't have the same "home-feeling" experience we had in TN, but it definitely refreshed us in the search. We could see ourselves in the church and want to visit it some more.
After our Europe trip, the church search will continue. The plan for now is just to return to the last church and see how things go. On our first visit there, they had guest music visiting and we were unable to get a feel for their worship set. We appreciate all the prayer and thoughts as we continue to find a church family and friends in Lima.