Finding a Church In UK: How to Find a Church You Like

Finding a good church home is a lot like looking for a car — you might test-drive many of them but still come out unsatisfied. Sooner or later though, with patience and perseverance, as well as a determination to find the right church, you will find yourself fascinated with one in particular. As one who became a Christian about five years ago, I soon realized the importance of discovering a church suited to my needs, and more so, one that I felt I could contribute to. Even though there are no bulletproof rules in finding a church home that’s comfortable to you, there are some basic guidelines to follow that can save you a lot of time, frustration, — and money.

Spend Time In Prayer:

Praying before you search for a church is a necessity for many reasons. First, since God knows everything, He is able to lead you to a church that serves Him and desires to do His will. Second, when you pray, you allow God to understand that you are serious about a church home, and that you will go through whatever trouble to find one. Third, it will keep you humble, waiting patiently, and choosing wisely.

Check the Yellow Pages, Newspaper, And Internet:

The Yellow Pages, newspaper, and the Internet are all wonderful resources when looking for a church. By looking under ‘Churches’ in the yellow pages, you will find a plethora of them within different denominations. Simply select the denomination that you are most closely affiliated with, and narrow it down to what is closest to your geographical location. The newspaper usually has churches listed in the religious section. The Internet is a wonderful way to check out a church because usually you can find their web site online — if not, then it might be a fairly small-sized. A word of caution though: Even though these are wonderful resources to find a church, they are limited. Even though you may be able to find out where a church is located and some of its’ beliefs, this does not tell you anything about the actual environment. There simply is no substitute for attending the church itself — just be sure that they are teaching the right thing though.

Research the Pastor’s Reputation Within The Community:

Especially in a day of pastoral controversies all over the U.S. (Ex. Ted Haggard), it is vital that you check the reputation of a pastor within the surrounding community. With a grain of salt, ask the people of the community what they think about the pastor. Check with other churches to see if they have any problems with him. Even check with the congregation itself to find out what the strengths and weaknesses of the pastor are. If you find out that the pastor has had a bad reputation recently, then it would be wise to find another church. A shepherd can only lead the sheep if the shepherd himself is a model of virtue and excellence; the sheep should instantly recognize and follow His voice.

Seek Out Their Doctrinal Beliefs:

This should be one of the most important aspects of a church, though it should not be overdone. The Gospel should not be watered-down and there should be explicit mention of faith and repentance. A solid Bible-believing church should believe that faith and repentance is necessary for salvation, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that salvation is by grace through faith, and that love is the greatest commandment. Many churches believe that the deity of Christ is included here, but that is a matter of dispute. They should exercise rigorous self-discipline and not allow sin to be rampant in their church.

Ensure That You Feel Comfortable In The Church:

When you visit a church, check out the environment. Is it a place that you could visit three times a week possibly? Do you feel the presence of God in the church? Is worship an integral part of the church service? Do people greet you when you come in the door, and does your pastor come and talk to you at some point? Do they refrain from embarrassing you to stand up as a first-time visitor? If you’ve said yes to all of these questions, then you are on your way to finding a church that you will love. Keep in mind, that you are only going to feel appreciated if you talk back to the people who are talking to you. It is very difficult to have a conversation with someone who is reticent to speak. Also, you should find many other people of the same age at your church, since friends are vital to a healthy life — in and out of the church. If at all possible, you should stay away from mega-churches since it is almost impossible to feel recognized by the pastor and congregants. If you do attend one, find a way to talk to the pastor, and engage in Bible study with other people your age.

Know That There’s No Perfect Church:

It is very common to hear that many people refrain from attending church because of the hypocritical people there. You should keep in mind that no one is perfect, and that everyone is hypocritical whether or not they confess to be a Christian. If a church was perfect, you wouldn’t be allowed to attend. So please keep in mind that people in the church need to be forgiven just as anyone else does. Also, there are many people that attend church who confess to love Jesus, but yet live atrocious lives. If you know someone who is always talking about how much they love Jesus, but yet always living in sin, then you should stop short of spending too much time with them. People make mistakes. If they are falling into sin, then forgive them. If they dive into sin, then stay away from them, other than the times you are witnessing to them.

Look For Outreach Ministries Where You Can Contribute:

Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church. Since a church is a multifarious organization, there is always a place for you in the ministry. Some churches have prison ministries while others have missionary retreats to other countries. Whether it is reaching out to your community, or another country, get involved. Make sure you do not perform ministerial works for the publicity though — it should be done for God and Him only.

Look For The Church’s Vision:

Last — and most importantly — look for the church’s vision. Every church should have a goal or plan that they are working towards. This should involve not only reaching out to the community, but witnessing to the lost. Without a vision, the people will perish, and you will have wasted your time.

Finding a solid Bible-teaching church home is not impossible, but you must approach the issue with candor as to what you want, and patience as to what you will get. You deserve no less than to be loved by the people of God, so please choose a church wisely. These tips will help you to find a church congenial to your desires and needs — a reciprocal relationship that grows over time. May God bless you and the church that you attend!

Why I Love Christ United Methodist Church

Although I don’t attend the church anymore because I now reside 1,100 miles away, I am still an ardent supporter of Christ United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the life-altering messages its inspiring pastor, Dr. Jeff Dunn, shares with his congregation each Sunday.
As a matter of fact, the reason I’m writing this column at all is because I was recently sitting down in my home near Kansas City, Missouri, watching a DVD of one of the church’s spirited services with my ten-year-old daughter, Tia.

After watching the amazing service, in which “Pastor Jeff” once again left some indelible – and imperative – impressions, on those in attendance as well as myself and my daughter, I decided to write this article and share some of my feelings about the church with others who may be in the area want to attend services one day.

The first thing that sticks in my mind about the very first time I attended Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) is the genuine feeling of warmth and acceptance, the church’s ushers and parishioners give you upon entering the building. To be honest about it, I’ve attended numerous churches the past few years and the truth is, that not every church is as welcoming as they sometimes portray themselves to be.

Some churches’ pastors, staff and members dress in their Sunday best each and every week and, whether consciously or subconsciously, look down their noses at others who are in attendance who may not be fortunate enough to afford clothing as nice as theirs.

At CUMC, the members and visitors who attend the church, wear everything from three-piece suits to shorts and sandals, depending mostly on the weather. I have to admit that it is quite refreshing to know that you can attend church wearing either a pair of blue jeans, something casual or even a pair of shorts and tee shirt and no one is going to make you feel uncomfortable because they don’t approve of you choice of garb.

The next thing I found out about CUMC is that the church does something very wise by having three very different services for its members.

The first, or, “traditional” service, is a more conventional church service and the attendees are generally middle-aged to elderly citizens who enjoy a slightly more “reserved” service and the music that accompanies it

The second service is geared towards children and youths and is ingeniously called, “Big House.” The entertaining and innovative program is a ministry the church uses to encourage children to bring their parents to church. Families attend Big House and learn about Jesus through songs, skits, videos and other creative means.

Finally, there is the third, or, “contemporary” service, which is the service I generally attended and grew to love immensely. The service features an excellent band and choir, which continuously performs some of the best “Christian” music I have ever heard in any church – in a more modern setting that is more likely to attract younger members into coming to church.

Without speaking on behalf of the church, my personal opinion is that Christ United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is unequivocally the finest church I have ever attended in my life.

The messages Pastor Jeff imparts on his congregation are always heartfelt and sincere, yet, powerful and life changing.

Simply put, attending Christ United Methodist Church, even once, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never forget – I know I won’t.

Christ United Methodist Church is located at 2901 Fantasy Way in Myrtle Beach, SC 29579. The phone number is 843.236.6201.

Lost Churches of Wales – Llangyfelach, Pennard and Penmaen

Churches were plentiful on the Gower of old. Some have survived if only partially, while others have been lost to the ravages of time.
In this article, we will take a look at three main churches of the Gower peninsula: St. Cyfelach of Llangyfelach; St. Mary’s of Pennard and Penmaen Old Church.

In 1803 a severe gale laid waste to most of St. Cyfelach’s. While the parishioners built a new church nearby, local legend maintained that the old church tower remained isolated like a sentry, because the devil himself couldn’t keep his hand off it.

The old legend says that the devil made off with materials during the rebuilding, and he tried to steal the tower and was stopped by the prayers of a clergyman. The devil let loose of the tower and it dropped to its current solitary position.

The old churchyard with its huge circular boundary, is thought to mark the place of the “Monastrium”, which was said have been built by St. David during the sixth century. Early church origin has been partly confirmed by evidence of Dark Age stonework. A plain cross dating back to between 600-800AD is set in stone above the north tower entrance and nearby is a cross base dated sometime in the tenth century. The newer church also contains a stone cross.

The tower and churchyard can easily be visited, and this is still an active and working parish on the outskirts of Swansea.

St. Mary’s Church, Pennard and Penmaen Old Church

The term lost is truly reflective of these two churches; as not only the churches are missing, but also their villages and castles are all but relegated to the ages, cast offs of the Norman invasions of South Wales.

The churches and villages were left to waste away in the drifting sands and inhospitable climate of the day. Now all that remains are dunes of grass and scrubby hollows.

The church at Penmaen was the worst affected. All that remains is some half buried stonework. The site was excavated in the 1800s and glass fragments were found which seemed to indicate the church location. A number of skeletons that were haphazardly buried cast speculation that the area had been the scene of an outbreak of the plague.

Perhaps the most ‘wondrous’ find at this site was that of an incense burner, modeled after the Holy City of Jerusalem. This piece is on permanent display at the City Museum of Wales.

The village grounds are barren, save bit of earthworks from the Norman castle. However, a prehistoric burial chamber can still be seen near the church remains that predate the site by more than four millennium.

The church of St. Mary’s on Pennard Burrows is a bit more obvious than that of Penmaen. The ruins of Pennard castle are more prevalent and a rather large and craggy mound of masonry marks the site of the old church and is now part of the Pennard Golf Course. There is also a holy well dedicated to St. Mary at the bottom of the hill from the castle.

The demise of the village and church is linked by legend to the destruction of Pennard castle. Legend says that the castle was destroyed by elves that were scorned by those who lived at the castle; the elves created a great sandstorm and buried all of Pennard and her inhabitants in a sandy grave forever.

How Mormon Church Services Differ from Other Denominations

As a member of the Mormon church, I have attended hundreds of church meetings. Over the years I have learned that several aspects of Mormon meetings seem unusual to people unacquainted with my faith. Here are five of the unique features of Mormon services:

  1. A Different Speaker Every Week.

In most Christian denominations, a pastor (or other clergy) speaks to the congregation each week. If you are a churchgoer, you might have selected your church based on the quality of the preacher.

In the Mormon church, however, there is no paid clergy. The leader of a congregation (the bishop) is not compensated with money for his work. Like the other members of the congregation, he has a day job during the week.

Because leaders are unpaid, the various responsibilities in the church are divided among the members — including the responsibility to speak in church. In a typical Sunday service, two or more members of the congregation will speak for ten to fifteen minutes about a scriptural topic.

The speakers are typically given this assignment at least one week in advance. They are assigned a specific topic.

  1. Three-Hour Block.

The format of Mormon meetings has changed over time. Currently, they last for three hours, which seems long to some visitors. While some churches hold services on Sunday, and then have additional Bible study classes during the week, these meetings are all held together in the Mormon church.

This “three-hour block” consists of three separate meetings: The first is “Sacrament Meeting,” the equivalent of the Sunday meeting held by most Christian churches, in which the sacrament (aka communion, or the Lord’s Supper) is performed. The second meeting is Sunday School, in which adults meet together for scripture study while children meet in similar classes by age. The third meeting is similar to Sunday School, but women and men meet separately (although they study from the same lesson manual).

  1. First-Sunday Testimony Meeting.

Once a month, on the first Sunday, the weekly Sacrament Meeting is called Testimony Meeting. On that Sunday, no speakers are assigned in advance. Instead, members are given an opportunity to walk up to the pulpit and testify of their faith in Jesus Christ. Some participants simply state their beliefs. Others share personal experiences that have brought them closer to the Savior.

  1. Focus Exclusively on Mormon Doctrine.

Some Christian denominations use church meetings as a time to study what other religions believe. For example, a pastor might give a presentation on “What Muslims Believe.”

In Mormon services, it is not considered appropriate to editorialize about other faiths in that way. Instead, speakers discuss the scriptures, teachings of Mormon leaders, and their personal experiences and beliefs.

  1. No Politics.

During this Presidential election cycle, the news has reported various religious congregations supporting specific Presidential candidates.

In the Mormon church, all leaders and speakers are directed to be politically neutral. It is not appropriate to take a political position in church meetings; nor is it appropriate to allow campaigning of any sort in a Mormon church building, even on days other than Sunday.

Members of the church are encouraged to vote in elections, and to prayerfully decide which candidates to favor. No further direction is given.

The Four Priorities of the Disciples of Christ Church

The modern day Christian church (Disciples of Christ) are governed by their congregations. They have a convention called the General Assembly once a year. At the 2001 General Assembly, the Disciples of Christ set goals to encourage growth for the church’s future and to guide its members. The deadline for these goals to be reached is 2020. These goals are called the Four Priorities.

The Four Priorities are as follows:

  1. Becoming a Pro-reconciliation /Anti-racist Church.
  2. Forming 1000 new Disciples of Christ Churches by 2020.
  3. Transformation of current congregations by 2020.
  4. Realizing these goals by providing leadership development for people in both the renewed and new congregations.

Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism goals include fighting racism and its causes. The church has been striving for these goals actively since the 2001 General Assembly. The Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism goals were funded by a special reconciliation offering. This first Priority of the Disciple’s Church encourages its members to make the Disciples Church visible in the Christian Community. It also encourages local churches to learn from ethnic voices and gain insight from them. Justice and salvation are the real goals of this Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism priority. A secondary ideal that the church hopes to glean from developing this first priority in the Disciples church is that members’ spirituality will be strengthened. As of 2008 e8ght regional ministers were called to serve the Disciples church as Pro-reconciliation/Anti-racism ministers.

The second priority for the Christian Church is to bring 1000 new congregations into being by 2020. Starting new churches has been a persistent goal since the churches earliest beginnings. The Pentecost Offering that is taken in local congregations helps to support this goal financially. This effort has been quite successful for the Christian Church so far, because by the year 2007 500 new Christian Church (Disciples of Christ ) churches had been started, reaching half of the goal.

Transformation of 1000 churches by 2020 is the third goal set for in the Four Priorities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Christian Church decided to transform these churches by nurturing the leadership of their churches. In 2006, a conference was held to nurture church leadership. A majority of the Disciples of Christ churches were in attendance at this conference, giving the church a strong basis to start their goal of church transformation.

The final goal of the Four Priorities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is to strengthen and develop leadership in its new and renewed congregations. This priority is the foundation for the other three priorities. Leadership traits that the Disciples of Christ want to see in its upcoming leaders are effectiveness, a strong faith, a concern for justice, a spirit of unity through Jesus Christ, a compassionate and caring attitude, development of missions both locally and around the world, and a dedication to stewardship.

There are continuing opportunities for leadership development in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) throughout the church on the local, regional and the General Assembly levels. Fourteen colleges and seven theological universities are based on Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) principles, adding to the possibilities for leadership development in the church.

historic timeline of British houses

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Tudor – 1485 – 1603

tudor house

The Tudor house was defined by its Tudor arch and oriel windows. The Tudor period was the first period to move away from the medieval style houses and was more like a timber framed country house. Today Tudor houses are all listed building and highly sought after due to there location and the amount of space and history involved. Tudor houses are an expensive housing option so be prepared for the financial layout and upkeep costs. If that doesn’t put you off then buying a Tudor house could be a great investment and opportunity to keep English heritage alive.

Elizabethan – 1550 -1625

elizabethan house

Elizabethan houses can be recognised by their large vertical timber frames that are often supported by diagonal beams. The Elizabethan style houses were similar to medieval style houses. These houses were built sturdy to last through the age. The houses were built by the middle class are are today listed building.

Jacobean – 1603 – 1625

Jacobean house

The Jacobean style gets its name from King James 1 of England who reigned at the time. The Jacobean style in England follows the Elizabethan style and is the second phase of Renaissance architecture. May Jacobean houses were very large both inside and out with large rooms for family living.  Common features included columns and pilasters, arches and archades. These features were to create a sense of grandeur. There are many Jacobean style houses on the market today if your lucky enough to be able to afford one.

Stuart – 1603 – 1714

stuart house

One of the most common period property types for country houses. This period house boasted elegant exteriors with sash windows, high ceiling and spacious rooms. The outside was commonly bare brick and flat fronted.

English Baroque – 1702 – 1714

During this period houses were decorated with arches, columns and sculptures and took many features and characteristics from the continent. The interiors were very exuberant with artwork and ornaments in all rooms main rooms

Palladian – 1715 -1770

palladian house

The Palladian era started in 1715 and these types of houses are characterised by symmetry and classic forms, more plain than other eras however on the inside houses were lavish and often had elaborate decorations

Georgian – 1714 – 1837

georgian house

The Georgian house was styled with rigid symmetry, the most common Georgian house was built with brick with window decorative headers and hip roofs. The Georgian house period started and got its name due to the 4 successive kings being named George.

Regency – 1811 – 1820

regency house

The Regency housing style was common among the upper and middle classes from 1811 to 1820 the houses were typically built in brick and then covered in painted plaster. The plaster was carefully moulded to produce elegant decorative touches to give the exterior of the house more elegance.

Victorian – 1837 – 1910

victorian house

Very common even today especially in London. A Victorian house in general refers to any house build during the reign of Queen Victoria. The main features of a Victoria house are roofs made of slate with sash windows and patters in the brick work that are made using different colour bricks. Stained Glass windows and doors were also a common feature as were bay windows

Edwardian – 1901 -1910

edwardian house

Edwardian architecture got its name during the reign of King Edward from 1901 – 1910. These types of houses were generally built in a straight line with red brick. Edwardian houses typically had wooden frame porches and wide hallways. The rooms inside were wider and brighter moving away from the older style houses that were more gothic. Parquet wood floors and simple internal decoration was common also.